Home bills itself as a “unique horror experience.” And it’s right. It is less of a game and more of an experience. Of course, there are many of these horror “experiences” that you can get for free. I’m not saying that buying this game would be wasting three perfectly good dollars, but buying this game would be a waste of three perfectly good dollars. It just isn’t a particularly fun game. Sorry.
The big selling point about Home is it is a murder mystery where the choices you make determine the outcome of the story. While an interesting concept, and good for replay value, it kind of undermines the whole ‘murder mystery’ aspect of the game. The biggest draw of mysteries is solving them before the solution is revealed. If the solution changes depending on which clues you collect, it just feels cheap. For instance (And now I’m going into spoiler territory, so if you don’t want to be spoiled you should stop reading here), one of the bigger choices is whether or not you find Rachel’s body in your basement. The game straight up asks you,
Do I find Rachel’s corpse?
I dunno dude. You’re there. You tell me. Oh. I have to choose one to progress? Fine. I’ll pick no. I’d like this to have a happy ending if at all possible.
THERE IS NO RACHEL!
Sorry? That’s a bit of a logical leap, isn’t it? I mean… she just might have gone out to the store or something dude. Is this how this guy deals with everything in his life? His keys aren’t on the table, so there never was a car? His parents aren’t home, so obviously he’s an orphan?
As is the case with many of these indie horror games, you play as unnamed protagonist du jour. Protag wakes up in an unfamiliar house and finds a dead body. But more importantly, his leg hurts. Protag will not shut up about his leg. I have a slight limp because I seem to have wounded my leg. Why did I jump down that hole? Now my leg hurts even worse/I’m glad I didn’t jump down that hole. Just thinking about it makes my leg hurt. This gun in my pocket is really heavy and climbing ladders makes my leg hurt.
Protag? Can you shut up about your leg? I get it. It hurts. I made you James Sunderland all over the place which only made it worse, but you have more pressing problems to deal with. You are in a sewer. You are potentially being chased through said sewer by the serial killer who has potentially murdered your potentially imaginary girlfriend. Quit whining and climb the ladder.
Gameplay is incredibly simplistic — Arrow keys to move, space to examine stuff, and y/n to answer yes or no questions. Puzzles are similarly simplistic. They come in two flavors. Find item X and bring it to location Y, or find switches. The switch “puzzles” are blatant padding. You cannot progress until X (Where X >= 4) number of switches have been pressed. If the pressed switch doesn’t activate the first time, press it multiple times. This just feels like busy work. Why am I forced to press a button more than once to progress? Was there really no other way to pad out the gameplay?
In fact, examining everything more than once is a good idea, if only to get the chance to listen to more of Protag’s whining (if that is what you’re into). I know it’s a horror game and the protagonist is supposed to be scared, but I’ve seen horror games starring little girls that didn’t have so much whining in them. When the frightened British girl whose panic meter jumped because she got static shocked by a door is braver than your videogame protagonist, there is a problem. Scooby Doo is braver than this guy.
At any rate, this game is an unfun slog. Once you realize that there are no actual enemies that can hurt Protag, it’s just one long series of fetch quests with spooky noises and a whole lot of whining. There isn’t even a soundtrack worth writing home about, as the game has no music. Unless you find that sort of thing appealing, I would advise you to give this game a pass.
If you decide you want to give it a go anyway, Home is available for purchase at the Steam store.