Home. A tiny one-man indie game that bills itself as a "unique horror adventure". Well, I love horror, and I love indie games, and it's better to be unique than be just another cheap knockoff, right? Sounds good to me...I think?
What were my expectations going in?
This game has gotten a lot of press in the indie circuit. British magazine Computer & Video Games called it one of their "20 Essential PC Games Of 2012". That's a pretty big honor! Home also gets cited frequently in the "Video Games as Art" discussions. How it manages to be simplistic, pixelly graphics yet still pulls off a genuinely unsettling and terrifying atmosphere. So the press has set a high bar for it.
However, I've always thought the graphics looked like shit, and doubted that it could present such an atmosphere with its graphical style. Also, while I halfheartedly support the "Video Games As Art" movement, I usually (not always, but more than 50% of the time) hate the games they cite as "art". So my expectations were low.
|This is it. This is pretty much the whole game.|
So how was it?
Crap. Absolute crap. I hate being right sometimes. This game was just boring. Almost worse, it has promises of being intriguing, but never actually manages to be.
I'd like to give you a summary of the game, but I can't. I can explain the gameplay, and what it's like playing the game, but it doesn't really have a plot. Just mediocre atmosphere. The reason it doesn't have a plot is because you choose the plot. It's like one of those old Choose Your Own Adventure books, minus any form of adventure whatsoever. You come to a decision, and it asks you like "Do you pee on the hobo? Y/N" and when you choose your answer, nothing happens. The game pretty much shrugs and goes "okay, it's your story bro." It doesn't come into play later, it doesn't save your ass or make a branching plot, it just....happens.
Home is full of red herrings. You may as well retitle it "Red Herring: The Game". At one point you come across a huge water tower. At the top, you can see the side has been ripped open from the inside, and there are what appear to be bloody claw marks along the side of the tower. I got excited! Am I werewolf? am I hunting a werewolf? Some other kind of monster? Anything? Anything at all? Nope. Never acknowledged by the rest of the game. None of my choices even hinted at it whatsoever.
The graphics in Home are kitschy retro pixelated graphics for absolutely no reason other than that's what's currently trendy in indie gaming right now. I'm not generally against the retro pixel movement in indie gaming, but I do feel it's grossly overdone in many cases. It serves absolutely no purpose here. While some reviewers argue, I feel like the graphics in fact significantly detracted from the game. It made it feel lazy, like creator Benjamin Rivers didn't have the skill or talent to create decent artwork, so he just kinda tossed some pixels on the screen and said "This is a pile of clothes." The lighting effect, if you can call it that, is aiming for a sort of spooky, claustrophobic effect, but winds up just being annoying and gimmicky.
|You're not the boss of me...|
Home toots its own horn by telling you HOW to play the game early on. You get a splash screen telling you to wear headphones and turn off the lights. Even when I was hopeful about this game, I found this annoying. Don't tell me how to play, it's very pretentious and presumptuous. And really, there's no reason for this. It's mildly atmospheric, but seriously if the game can't stand on its own, that's bullshit. The sound is mildly adequate, but nothing special beyond a couple of loud noises intended to be jump scares. I would have been just fine playing with my speakers.
Ugh. I don't really have much to say about Home, nor do I think there's much left to say. People can argue "Yeah but Cranky, this whole thing was made by one man! He did the writing, the programming, the art, everything!" That's great. Does that excuse him from being terrible at them all? If I have several tasks to perform, and I do them all poorly, do I still get credit because I did it all by myself? No. Home is a shitty game whether it's made by one person or a team of people combining their powers to suck even harder.
Don't waste your time or money on this crap.
Play time: 2 hours
Finished: Unfortunately, yes
Recommended: Hell no. This game was terrible.
Available For: PC