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Posted on May 1st 2015 at 08:26:35 AM by (Fleach)
Posted under Review, Indie, Game, Benjamin Rivers, Home, Horror, Adventure, Choose your own adventure

Jump scares and gore have become commonplace in modern horror games and films, but Home: A Unique Horror Adventure avoids all of that to create a creepy journey full of revelations.

Home: A Unique Horror Adventure, released for the PC in 2012 and for the PS4, PS Vita, and iOS in 2014, is a game by Toronto-based Benjamin Rivers. To call Home a game is something I'm almost hesitant to do. It's more like an interactive story similar to Dear Esther or Gone Home, but much more reliant on player input. Still, you don't do much "playing" in Home and instead the game tries to get into your head, or rather, its unnamed protagonist's head, which in turn messes with yours.

Remember those high school stream of consciousness writing assignments? This game is a lot like those. As the player, you have complete control over how Home unfolds. If you find an item lying on the ground, you can choose whether the protagonist picks it up or not. This is done via a Yes/No system that follows most dialogue boxes. When examining an object, the protagonist offers some insight into the item or includes some context for it before asking the player if he/she wants to keep the item in question. It's like you're telling the character what to do, only he's already done it. The reason for this is that the game reacts to your responses, which in turn, influence what happens next.

Home should be praised for what it accomplishes using basic, yet beautiful, pixel graphics (your character looks like an 8-bit Conan O'Brien) and minimal atmospheric sound effects. By making the character uneasy and unsure of himself, the game causes you experience these feelings as well. There will be times when you think to yourself, "I don't want to go down that hallway" because everything is so unnerving. It's like the discomfort that comes from perfect silence that is broken by your breathing or footsteps. And because the game reacts to player choice, a sense of deja vu is to be expected.

At only one to two hours long, Home presents a fully realized story that the player created completely on their own. There's nothing left to wonder or do to seek explanations because you have total control over the narrative and everything is nicely summarized at the game's conclusion. Home is very dream like and plays like an unreliable narrator's recollection of his past, and as a result, it encourages players to revisit the game multiple times to experience its many unique outcomes. By the end of one playthrough, your character can have things figured out, while a second playthrough can end in total confusion. There are certain areas you may never see depending on your route and your choices.

Anyone who appreciates the work of Steven King or the choose-your-own-adventure genre of games should play Home: A Unique Horror Adventure. Even those without a gaming PC should be able to run this game.

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Thanks, Fleach! I really get into these shorter, "experience" games, and I picked this up awhile ago through PSN but haven't checked it out yet. That will soon change, thanks to you. Smiley
I wanted this when it was $.99 but I don't have a PS4.  Sounds sweet.
Awesome game.  When I first got ahold of this one I was expecting something like Lone Survivor.  That is, a cerebral horror game somewhat in the spirit of the first few Silent Hill games but with a 2D, 16-bit inspired paint job.  Instead we get a title that is just as psychological but feels like a short story in a Stephen King or Dan Simmons novel that you can play a part in.  What is sad is that Home doesn't get as much love as it could (mainly because of comparisons to the previously mentioned Lone Survivor, I think).
@slackur: You won't regret it. If you can, play the game at night. The game also recommends headphones, but the sound design is so sparse I don't think it makes a difference.

@shaggy: The game's on PC as well and it pretty cheap ($3 I think). It won't overload your computer even if you don't have a dedicated gaming machine. It's worth checking out.

@bombatomba: Agreed. This game is almost like a visual novel. Though I'd say it's more of an interactive world that intended to evoke a creepy vibe. Steven King and Dan Simmons are good comparisons.

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