Home

Forethought:

For one reason or another, I was scarcely aware of Home's existence until I stumbled upon it while seeing what games had controller support on steam.  I could tell that it was a horror game, and it sure did look a lot like Lone Survivor, right down to the game's store page image...

In any case, I'm always up for a horror game, so let's dig in.

Home

My first impression of Home was that it may be too pretentious for its own good.  This may not have proven to be the case, but I really don't like when games tell me that I should put on headphones before I play the game.  Home also told me that I should play the game in one hour-and-a-half long sitting.

Fine.  One sitting it is.

Once I got into the game though, I understood the style choice.  This is yet another pixel-art game, but the style lends itself extremely well to the atmosphere it tries to set.  This is a horror game through-and-through, right down to the distant growls and screeches unsettling the player from time to time. 

About a half hour into the game, I realized that it was succeeding.  I had that "I really want to put the controller down and walk away", and I found myself pausing the game simply so I could take a breather quite a few times.  My favorite horror trick that the game impies is the super-evil bass sound that makes your speakers rumble, telling you something terrible is coming.

In fact, as far as the horror atmosphere goes, the only thing I didn't like about the game was during one section when you walk through a forest and there are little yellow eyes blinking in the background.  This is relatively obvious, and Home, for the most part, voids cliche pretty well.

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself again.  In Home, you wake up in a big house (a mansion in a horror game, I know) and need to discover what's going on and why you're there.  You travel from the mansion, to a sewer, to the outdoors, to a train station, to the woods, etc etc, and find terrifying things along the way, always aware that something may come and get you at any moment.

For the first half of the game, I was entirely along for the ride.  The dusty-pixel film grain the game applies appropriately obscures your vision so that you're always a little afraid to move forwards, and the early sections of the game have enough jump scares (not too many) to keep you on your feet.

But here's where it went off the rails.  And if you plan on playing Home, I suggest you stop reading here because, although I'm not going to explicitly spoil anything, in explaining my disappointment I will reveal some of the game's tricks.

There be spoiler ahead.  Yar.

See, halfway through, Home turns into a mystery.  You start discovering dead bodies and wondering how they got dead, while at the same time wondering how you ended up past all these locations in the mansion.  When I finally realized that this is what the game was aiming for, I stopped being afraid and started being anxious.  The game never scared me again, but eventually that anxiety turned into exhaustion as I realized what was happening.

See, the truth is, my very first 'guess' at what was actually happening ended up being correct.  And this doesn't seem to be a result of luck.  At the end of the game, the developers ask you to tweet at them (ugh) telling them what you think the ending meant.  But, as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no ambiguity in the ending's meaning, and it telegraphed to the player from the giddy-up. 

It's possible that I'm overly confident in my interpretation.  Regardless, though, Home squandered all of the tension it had built.  So, I have

Completed

Home and don't really recommend it, although it's very cheap on Steam.  Maybe you can tell me if you found different meaning than I did.  I'm excited for tomorrow's game, though... we're going to look at a similarly-titled 'horror' game that just released called

Gone Home!