Review: Home – A Unique Horror Adventure (PS4)

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Title: Home – A Unique Horror Adventure
Format: PlayStation Network Download (49.6 MB)
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Benjamin Rivers Inc.
Developer: Benjamin Rivers
Original MSRP: $4.99 *This is a Cross-Buy title.
ESRB Rating: M
Home – A Unique Horror Adventure is also available on PlayStation Vita, iOS, PC and Mac. It is a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
You start off Home by waking up in a strange place trying to figure out and solve the mystery of what is going on. As you make your way through the game your actions, or lack of actions, subtly affect the world that you are in. All of these changes can add up and have a big impact on the game. It’s hard to go into too many details because I don’t want to ruin the story.

Home is a “horror” adventure game that reminds me of an old point and click game with a healthy dash of a Choose Your Own Adventure book and a pinch of a thriller movie. However, that description doesn’t really completely describe the game or the gameplay. There is not a lot of horror in the typical videogame sense.

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Besides the D-pad or Left Stick to move your character left or right you can also raise or lower your lantern. The only other button you use is X to interact with objects and the environment. The biggest component to this game is your mind and how much of an impact it has on everything. Unlike other videogames where you just need to solve puzzles to advance, you need to decide what is and is not important because the game does not, which is not a bad thing.

Visuals:
Home is an 8-bit style game with graphics that would look at home on an NES. While this effect has a nice retro look it also has a drastic effect on gameplay. Much like movies of yesteryear Home doesn’t use flashy visuals to create its atmosphere and much like classic Alfred Hitchcock films that make you fill in the parts of the action that you don’t see Home does the same thing. This raises the game from being an interesting “indie” title to one that truly aims to be a game that redefines the genre and the public’s view of what defines a game.

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Adding to the “fill in the blanks feeling” of the game is the limited view created by darkness. To illuminate your surroundings all you have is a trusty lantern. However this lantern only lights up a small area around your character. This raises the tension in the game as you play. All of these reasons highlight the need to follow the instructions of turning off the lights in your room at the beginning of the game.

Audio:
Another layer to this creepy atmospheric sundae is the audio. Much like the visuals, the audio is equal parts what you hear and what you don’t hear. While it may be weird to praise a game for what it is lacking, it’s the absence of sound that makes it so effective. Instead of constantly being bombarded by noise Home uses sound very infrequently which makes it highly effective. This selective use of the audio also applies to your character as all the observations you made have to be read on the screen, there is no voice-over. This also helps draw you into the game and makes your actions feel like they are truly your own actions.

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Online/Multiplayer:
There is no multiplayer to Home, however there is kind of an online component to the game but even that is not truly accurate. Like everything else with Home nothing is very straightforward. When the credits roll you are directed to go to a website and share your thoughts. While this doesn’t really fall into the category of online, it is actually more important than you might think. Again I hate to be so vague in my comments but the less you know about Home the better because this is a game where spoilers can greatly affect it.

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Conclusion:
I am also trying to be as vague as possible about any description of Home because I feel that any premeditated thought of it can drastically alter the game. The only things I will say about Home is that horror is misused here in my opinion. It is nothing like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, or Manhunt. It is more like a thriller so don’t let the term “horror” scare you away from the game. Finally I want to mention one hint for the game. Throughout Home it gives you options, but the moment you are given a choice don’t just push a button, really think about what you are about to select.

I’ve beat Home three times and I am still torn on the game. On one hand I would put it on a similar level as Interstellar or Inception for how much I was drawn into it. On the other hand those are movies and just on basic gameplay, Candy Crush or Tetris have deeper mechanics. I would argue that of all the games that have come along this is the key evidence in the debate of whether or not games can be art. Do I rate Home as a game or an experience that it generated? Much like the movie Interstellar, do you judge it just on the film or the conversations that the film generates. In the end Home has its flaws: the structure of the game, simple mechanics, and the lack of preparing you for the ending. However it also has its strengths too: thought provoking story, great atmosphere, and an interesting take on an online component. In the end I think Home is well worth being experienced and I strongly recommend people to try it out.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Damon Bullis

Damon Bullis

I’m a gamer from back in the days of Telstar Arcade, Atari 2600, and Intellivision. I currently have a PS4, PS3x2, Vita, PSP, Xbox One, 360, Wii U, Wii, and a N64.

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