A horror walking sim, but with 8-bit graphics! Hmm, I’m not entirely sure what is “unique” about this adventure.
|Console||PC/Mac (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita|
|Developer||Benjamin Rivers Inc.|
|Publisher||Benjamin Rivers Inc.|
|Purchase (PC/Mac)||Purchase from Humble Store.|
|Purchase (Vita)||Purchase from PlayStation Store.|
So to keep up with the Halloween spirit, I’ve decided to look through other games in my library. Previously, I reviewed the ever so popular LIMBO, the indie puzzle platformer present on the majority of today’s game consoles.
On my Vita—and yes, I have spent money on Sony’s wasted potential—, I found a game called Home. It was one of the very few horror games on the system and one of those that suggests you play it in the dark with the headphones on.
Doesn’t sound like a bad deal. I can go play this game on my bed right before I go to sleep.
Pft. Why not? I’ve visited, watched, read and played some disturbing and eye-bleeding shit. Shit like 4chan, terrible fan fiction, and places on the Internet that drip some sort of sickly white ooze. In this age of dumb Internet culture and vomit-inducing Internet debates that only prove that little kids shouldn’t own computers, I think I can stomach a virtual trip through Hell.
So to begin with, Home: A Unique Horror Adventure is a pixelated horror game by Benjamin Rivers. Despite claiming to be “unique,” I’m going to be frank and say that it is not quite so. Sorry to say. What we’re looking at is a horror game with a narrative.
Is there a survival aspect? No.
Is there a puzzle-solving aspect? Barely.
Is it scary? Not really.
Is it long? Not even close.
It narrows down to being a murder mystery with 8-bit graphics, which even taking that into account doesn’t make it all that unique. Free indie horror games such as HIDE, Imscared – A Pixelated Nightmare, 7 Days, and more already combined this art style with creepy visuals.
But I suppose it is rare to see a 2D sidescroller classified as “horror.” Not the campier, more upbeat kind you see with Castlevania games but the more subdued, atmospheric species.
You play as an unnamed man, who during one dark and stormy night wakes up in a random house and finds a dead body. With nothing but a flashlight and his curiosity, the man investigates certain places in his hometown and learns of a string of gruesome serial killings all in the same night. But in order to get to the bottom of these events, he must be thorough in his investigation and draw his conclusions.
To investigate, you have to interact with objects that highlight when you get close to them. This will prompt a text box showing the man’s thoughts.
Sometimes, you are given Yes/No decisions. Whichever decision you make will make an impact on the narration later in the game. And for most of these decisions, there is no turning back. Your main character has made up his mind and will like to move forward.
During his investigation, he is also searching for his beloved wife Rachel, who is somehow involved in these murders.
As for how the story unravels from there, it depends on what new discoveries you find and what decisions you make throughout the course of the game. This will cause the narration to change and give your main character different revelations on what took place during this night. The entire experience will last only an hour and half, so multiple playthroughs are encouraged.
In this sense, this game is not that different from a Japanese visual novel where you read a bunch of text and make decisions to enter different story paths. The main difference is that you actually control a character and interact with the environment in this game. Some might call this a “walking simulator.”
Honestly, it is an alright idea but I feel like the game could’ve been more ambitious in its execution. It’s definitely not a bad game, but I’m going to be that guy and say that I didn’t really like it that much.
The graphics are okay but I don’t feel that they really add to the game itself. I mean, when you think about it, going with the 8-bit art style is rather pointless for a game like this.
Recently, I viewed someone else’s opinion, a small channel by the name of VZedshows, on this game and he did bring up an interesting point. The game in some ways resembles an old-fashioned silent film in the horror genre.
Maybe to somehow compliment it, maybe the graphics could be monochrome or shoot for a more Game Boy look. That way, the old-timey feel of those silent films will be complete and the 8-bit art style will make more sense.
The sound design is quite minimal and doesn’t really stand out—though the credits of the game did mention using stock sound effects. The actual “scares” in the game are strictly jumpscares in the form of loud noises, such as a door slamming shut. However, there are times when you do feel a bit of unease as you go around. Sometimes, you will hear indistinct whispers in tiny rooms. Sometimes, you can hear footsteps in the woods that are not your own. It’s okay really, but this is only effective when you have headphones on. Otherwise, you can barely hear the more subtle sounds.
I want to like this game but I just wish there was more to it. Some of the decisions in the game seem so arbitrary that you don’t know if they make any meaningful impact in the later occurrences.
Seriously, what is the point of this decision?
I played through the game five times to see if there was something about it I was missing. Maybe a certain quality that I didn’t judge fairly. But from what I can tell, only specific decisions will have a bigger impact on the game’s ending.
What I would’ve like to see is if the game has more meaningful branching story paths, giving you access to exclusive areas only available in a story path and giving you a different experience each time. “Interactive fiction” games like The Stanley Parable managed to do this exceptionally well, provided with excellent writing and humor. Doing this alone is worth several playthroughs.
As it is though, Home: A Unique Horror Adventure is about the same experience for every playthrough. Sometimes, you may get a different perspective on the story based on what ending you get. Most of the time though, you’ll be drawing the same conclusions.
Are you the murderer? That’s up to you.
Is someone else the murderer? That’s up to you.
Do the victims share a trait that determines why the murderer had gone to such lengths to assassinate them? Hey, it’s your homework.
By the end of my first playthrough, I wasn’t satisfied. The game puts you in that “you’re always right” mindset for your choices but still somehow remains ambiguous. It feels like nothing has been accomplished, no matter what choices you make. And that’s just no fun.
When it comes down to it though, this game doesn’t offer much. Maybe I’m just not the right type of person to play it and I was expecting too much. An okay game, but keep your expectations low.
Home: A Unique Horror Adventure$2.99
- The story does keep you intrigued for the entire run, allowing you to put the pieces together and come up with your own conclusions.
- The sound effects and ambience are enough to instill an eerie atmosphere.
- The lack of meaningful decision-making will often give you a similar ending with each playthrough, making multiple playthroughs more of a chore than a fun activity.
- The game is only an hour and a half. Once you figure out the layouts of each map and can find just about every room and object, there is still not much more you can do to change the outcome of the story.