We’re going to break tradition for this review of new indie horror adventure game Home by telling you practically nothing about it. Not because we’re lazy (we are), not because we’re drunk (we are) and definitely not because we’re lost for words. We’d love nothing more than to discuss Home all night, but it would spoil the hell out of the game, and the best way to experience Home is to know nothing at all about it.
In the interest of making this review longer than a paragraph, however, we will reveal the first thirty seconds or so. The set-up will give most gamers déjà vu chills, borrowing as it does from various preceding adventure games: you wake up in a strange house with no memory of how you got there, and have to explore your surroundings and work out just what the hell happened to you. Don’t fret if that sounds rather unoriginal, as the plot very quickly picks up. Some horrific discoveries, coupled with the overarching mystery, will have you battling onwards despite a growing sense of dread, to discover what the blimming flip is going on.
Home is the work of a single man (Ben Rivers) who can boast a sterling job on all fronts. The pixellated graphics are old-school but suitably sinister, while the minimalist soundtrack adds considerably to the foreboding atmosphere. A crash of thunder, the squeal of a startled cat: if the sounds don’t actively freak you out, they’ll at the very least leave you unsettled.
Controls are just as simple, and just as effective. Ninety percent of the time you'll be walking left and right with the arrow keys, with the occasional interaction via the space key. Items such as hammers and door keys are used automatically, so you’re never left fiddling with your inventory, or wondering where to use that random steel pipe you picked up. There are almost no puzzles to solve or conventional obstacles to overcome. Home is all about pressing onwards and making sense of the terrible things you see.
If you like your plots to be tidied up neatly at the end, Home is likely to frustrate you. It’s all about interpretation, made clear by the ‘what happened?’ website you’re pointed to when it’s all over. We love the fact that every player can come up with their own version of Home’s story, which keeps you thinking about the game long after it’s all over.
It may be short (our first playthrough took around 45 minutes, and be warned that this game is meant to be played in one sitting, as there’s no save feature) but Home costs a measly $2 (around £1.35) and is worth every penny for fans of mystery and horror. Plus, with basic graphics come basic system requirements, so even your dusty old netbook can run this game.