Home Review

Wandering around in the sewers in Home

The indie scene has been the place to find genuinely frightening horror games for the past few years. Whether it’s Slender, Amnesia: The Dark Descent or any of the other, excellent, recent horror games, we have had a great selection to pick from. Benjamin Rivers, webdesigner, graphic novelist and indie game designer has opted to try his hand in the burgeoning indie horror scene with Home. You awake in a house that is not yours with no memory of how you got there, your only desire is to get home. It promises to be an evolving story that changes as you play, which is a line we’ve heard many times.

I definitely enjoyed the two playthroughs I put into Home. The environment Rivers crafted left me uneasy. The amount of time you spend by yourself certainly weighs down. Every move you make, puzzle you solve or item you find subtly influences the ending. Whether or not you do certain things also affects your mental state and the flavor text for the various items in the environment you can investigate. It was a nice touch that I appreciated as someone who clicks on everything I can possibly click on.

The first things you see in Home
You can see only as far as your flashlight shines

Home (PC)
Developer: Benjamin Rivers
Publisher: Benjamin Rivers
Released: June 1, 2012
MSRP: $2.99

Most of your experience in Home revolves around wandering through the environment with your flashlight and interacting with everything you can. If not, it’s a pretty straightforward path to the end, barring a few incredibly simple puzzles for you to get through. If it was any longer, Home would be dangerously treading on the path of boring. It is in no way a thrill ride, it is a slow, brooding game that wants you to revel in its themes and sense of unease. There’s nothing wrong with that and I enjoy a nice slow ride from time to time, but you should know this going in.

While it tries, Home fails to be a true horror game. There is simply so little interactivity in the game. Item and area descriptions really don’t count. It’s only a few steps away from a visual novel and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you do finally reach the end, you’re treated to a quick fire question and answer round that seems to pull most of the data for the ending. While the ending is quite modular, it really made most of the game feel pointless and the complete lack of scares and only a somewhat oppressive atmosphere leaves a bit to be desired.

A spooky space in Home
Another spooky space in Home

Home is exactly what its tagline describes it as, “a unique horror experience.” Beyond the fact that you move through the environments, there’s not a whole lot of interactivity here. This is a simple, narrative experience that takes less than an hour to play through. It’s fascinating and definitely worth a playthrough or two, but this isn’t a game I’m ever going to go back to and I can’t see too many others doing so either. Thankfully the low entry price makes this project one you can and should check out.