Is your own home terrifying? What about waking up in another home and having no clue how you got there? Home tries to be a simple horror adventure that makes the simple act of being inside an empty home creepy, but does it manage to succeed?
You play as a man who wakes up inside someone’s house without any clue where they are or how they got there. Worse, the owner of the house appears to be dead, there’s no power anywhere, and he has a really nasty limp. So he makes it his goal to get back home to his wife, and along the way he discovers bodies left behind by a serial killer.
Home is described as a “choose your own outcome” game. While the general story and how to proceed is always the same, every time the main character picks up an object he’ll ask if he did something with it. I could answer “yes” or “no” with each object and that would change his reactions to them, and hidden areas offer more insights to the story. Doubts about the protagonist’s credibility are constant, and there’s always an overwhelming feeling that I was going to learn something shocking on the next screen.
Yet by the end of Home I only really had a bunch of questions and no answers. The game’s stance is basically “It’s your interpretation!” but I didn’t find the story to be interesting enough to be worth thinking about much beyond the credits, and by the time I got to this review two days later I had to go back and refresh myself on some of the parts. As Home is a story-based game the story is supposed to be the most important part, but Home’s story is basically forgettable and uninteresting, something that harms the game greatly.
Home has a pretty simple pixel art style that looks decent enough. The whole game takes place in dark areas and I only had a flashlight to light up the area immediately around me (which isn’t how flashlights work, but that’s a discussion for another time). Interacting with an object will change the game to a big text-box that gives me a description of the object and a basic decision on what to do with it. The game does shine in its use of sound though. There’s no real scares in Home, but a prevalent creepy atmosphere does a lot of good when it comes to each area. A sewage treatment facility isn’t so bad on its own, but hearing mysterious bumps on pipes here and there does a lot of good to making me want to look behind my shoulders at all times.
There isn’t much gameplay to Home. All I really had to do was walk back and forth and interact with objects in the background to answer the yes/no questions. I’d just keep advancing through the areas until I reached the end of the game: there’s no combat or puzzles of any kind. There are, however, occasional road blocks. One section required me to turn valves arbitrarily to drain a flooded sewer section, while another required me to flip random switches to open a door. Both of these really served no purpose other than dragging the game out and could easily be cut with little consequence. Exploration is important though, as there are hidden items and scenes that could help add to the story.
Home’s big draw is supposed to be its story, but it doesn’t provide anything interesting enough to be worth looking at. Without this there’s really nothing else in the game worth showing up for. This Home is scary, but only because of how much time it wastes.