Home Sweet Home is one of the few horror games developed in Thailand. Can it present some neat ideas to the horror genre?
|Console||PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|Developer||YGGDRAZIL GROUP CO.,LTD|
|Publisher||YGGDRAZIL GROUP CO.,LTD, Ningbo Inception Media Co., Ltd.|
|Release Year||2017 – 2019|
|Purchase (PC)||Purchase from Humble Store.|
|Purchase (PS4)||Purchase from PlayStation Store.|
|Purchase (Xbox One)||Purchase from Microsoft Store.|
* For the 1989 Famicom RPG that inspired the Resident Evil series, please check out the review for Sweet Home.
Home Sweet Home is a Thai first-person horror game released by a film production company. There seems to be an upsurge of Asian horror games in the 2010s, with stuff released like Detention, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, and ARAYA.
I don’t know too much about the video game industry in Thailand, other than that it’s still in development stages. MMORPGs and mobile gaming seem to be big in southeast Asia, with few games being international releases. ARAYA and Home Sweet Home appear to be the only horror games developed in Thailand as well.
I’ve always wanted to see more countries put their own spin on the horror genre, particularly those of Asian countries. We’ve already seen ghosts, zombies, vampires and the like way too often. I want to see more horror games based on a specific culture’s myths.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at a horror game based on Thai myths.
Things Are Not As They Seem
Home Sweet Home stars a 34-year old man named Chadchai Tubloy, whom the game decided to call “Tim” for short… for whatever reason. I mean, it’s not like I can’t remember a name like Chadchai.
Instead of waking up in his house, he woke up inside what seems to be an abandoned university. After somehow ending up back at his house, he discovered that his wife Jane had gone missing.
Okay… Tim? Jane? What’s up with these English names? Were they called this in the original Thai audio or was this a localization choice? It didn’t help that all of the voice actors for the English audio spoke in an American accent. For example…
I was expecting a “what the fuck?” in a more generic horror game. Like, the typical Unity engine fare found on Steam.
For immersion’s sake, I’d rather see the characters refer to each other with conventional Thai names. I wouldn’t mind calling the protagonist Chadchai or Mr. Chadchai.
It’s not a big detractor to the game, but it’s jarring to say the least. It’s like if I try to play a game developed in Romania and there are characters named Joe and Beth. Doesn’t really fit with the setting, does it?
Anyways, Home Sweet Home plays like your standard first-person fare. It’s a survival horror title that does not give you the means to defend yourself. All you can is run and hide when a monster spots you. Furthermore, you must collect items, pick up notes that tell you backstory, solve puzzles, etc.
As for the survival aspect of the game, there’s a very small enemy variety (only three). Your main enemy is a vengeful ghost girl wielding a box cutter. While there are moments when she can be intimidating, she has definitely overstayed her welcome throughout Home Sweet Home. And honestly, she becomes more annoying to deal with as the game continues.
She’s the only “pursuer” that the game has. Her main routine is slowly, slowly patrol an area in search of a victim. And honestly, her AI is very simple. She doesn’t seem to react to whatever noise you make (I guess she’s deaf?), so you can literally walk right behind her without her noticing you.
But if she does spot you—whether directly or an enemy spirit giving away your position—, she will let out a bloodcurdling scream and run directly to where you are. And I mean exactly where you are, even if you think you’re hidden away from her. It’s like when she spots you, she can suddenly see through walls which allows her to home in on your position. And don’t bother shutting any doors to slow her down, because she opens them right away.
And if she does catch you, you have a chance to escape by reacting to a quick-time event. However, this will slow you down temporarily and it will only buy you a little more time to hide from her. And if she catches you again shortly, she immediately kills you.
Lockers and restroom stalls are pretty much the only hiding places available. And for some reason, the ghost girl never really checks them. She usually just stares at them awkwardly before going back to her patrol route. She’ll only open a locker if she actually saw you enter one. Otherwise, she’s quick to give up her search.
Some lockers have a hole in them, so you would also have to duck your head down whenever she’s around.
There is also a point in the game where you must deal with a giant humanoid creature called a preta. This type of creature is the sort of unique monster that I was looking for in Thai mythology. It’s essentially a type of spirit who once committed an atrocity against a loved one in a past life. Therefore, he/she was reborn as a monster that will always go hungry. And the only way to appease this creature is to give it food.
It has a neat design. It’s like a giant corpse-like creature with a single visible glowing eye. And in order to avoid it, you must stay out of its line of sight (indicated by the red beacon its eye emits).
Overall, gameplay is okay, if not average. I wanted to see more unique Thai myth creatures like the preta, if future releases related to this game come out.
However, I’m not a fan of the game’s main climax, where it sort of functions like a boss battle. Basically, you’d have to saw through a steel bar and escape the room to win. But during all this, the ghost girl constantly harasses you and you can only stop her from killing you by luring her to areas filled with holy water. And in a situation that requires you to act fast, it’s not always clear where those exact spots are. Eventually, I completed this part but it felt tedious overall.
Mysteries of the Cursed House
As far as story goes, I could at least say that the bits of Thai lore that you find from reading notes are at least very interesting to read. You get to read on creatures like the preta or witchcraft similar to voodoo, resulting in terrible curses.
But the main plot is unfortunately not that interesting.
There’s never really a point in the story where I cared about what happens to Tim or Jane. Both of them are one-note characters used to advance the story, though it’s not exactly clear what their actual roles are. It’s heavily implied that they’re just an unlucky couple who happened to move into a haunted house. And because Tim didn’t believe Jane when she began seeing paranormal activities around the house, a series of unfortunate events would follow suit.
But the story never really addresses what the abandoned university has anything related to Tim or Jane, or at least from what I gathered. Did they both attend that university? And if so, what is their relation to the ghost girl? Why was the ghost girl trying to murder Tim many times throughout the game? What was the purpose of the red wires that often cover entrances and block certain areas? Were they meant to keep something contained?
During the final sequence of Home Sweet Home, you’re treated to a slow but suspenseful event that builds up to the next plot point. And just when you think you’re about to get some answers, the game throws this nice little screen at you.
Yep! A cliffhanger ending with a promise of a next episode, even though it was never indicated at any point in the game (or on the Steam store page) that this was meant to be an episodic series. That’s just annoying.
I haven’t discussed the game’s VR mode, but that’s because I don’t own a VR headset. Maybe Home Sweet Home will be significantly scarier on VR, but it stopped being scary for me when I realized that the ghost girl was going to harass me nonstop.
Overall, Home Sweet Home is a decent indie production and a competently made survival horror game. Between the puzzle-solving and stealth elements, the game can get fairly repetitive. It doesn’t help that the story is uninteresting and was intended to be an episodic series, but you can at least get some interesting Thai lore from it. If you’re interested in this game, I suggest getting it on a sale.
Home Sweet HomePrice Varies
- Straightforward stealth gameplay similar to Amnesia or Outlast.
- Some interesting creature designs based on Thai lore.
- Well-made 3D models with a great attention to detail.
- Decent musical score for a suspenseful game.
- The attempt to "anglicize" a Thai game, which is rather jarring due to the setting.
- The ghost girl is a decent pursuer overall, but the game tends to overuse her in multiple portions of the game.
- Tedious climax.
- Lackluster story with an annoying cliffhanger ending.