Home – A Unique Horror Adventure, is a horror game with simple controls and an 8-bit art style. In a time where people think that being drawn into a game and being engaged by it is only possible with state-of-the-art visuals and a script that is 20,000 pages long, Home goes to show that when it comes to games, and horror games in particular, that atmosphere is still truly king.
I can’t talk much about the story without ruining the entire experience. What I can say is that your protagonist wakes up in a strange house with an injured leg and no memory of how he got there. It is up to the player to help piece together the story, which grows ever more foreboding, sickening and tense as you progress.
The decisions you make through the game no matter how minor, will shape the narrative and its ultimate conclusion. There are an insane amount of possible endings, so even if you have beaten the game once or twice, the story can still suck you in for a third, fourth or fifth time. (I myself played the game four times in succession before even beginning to write this review).
At the conclusion of the game, you are also directed to a web link where you can post your own story and compare it to everyone else’s. Although I strongly advise against doing this until you have completed the game, you can check out the stories here.
Gameplay wise, Home is quite bare. It plays almost like an interactive choose-your-own-adventure novel than a full-fledged game. Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a negative, as the gameplay matches the whole “minimalist” feel of the game, and still delivers an engaging experience that I personally have not seen rivaled by anything else the App Store has to offer.
To play Home, you tap on each side of your screen to move that direction, tap the top to look up, and double tap on objects to interact with them.The simplistic controls are all very fluid and response near instantly to your commands. This fluidity in the controls is helps the player stay engrossed in the game, while also offering a sense of urgency.
You build the game’s narrative by interacting with the objects in the world, and even the most minor of objects can turn out to have some deep and meaningful purpose later in the game.
You’d be forgiven for looking at Home’s visuals and thinking “this game can’t possibly scary. What are they trying to pull?” I mean, how often do you hear people say that something needs to look scary to be scary? Well Home stands proud as proof to the contrary.
Using a simplistic 8-bit style, Home still manages to perfectly convey the locations, objects and even the atmosphere. When you see blood on the wall, you know it is blood even though it is nothing more than a few brown/red pixels on a grey backdrop. Home really accomplishes amazing things with its limited art style. Even the character model, who has a leg injury since the beginning of the game, walks with a slight limp.
The game uses a flashlight to help you see where you are going, however it only offers limited vision. This limitation is a key part in making the horror experience really capture you. As the noise of a falling pan are happening in the background, you can only see a few feet in front of you. It makes you feel hopeless, lost and at times downright frightened.
The audio in Home is one of its best features, and easily the part of the game that can suck you in the most. There is a haunting quietness through most of the game, only accentuated by the most minor of sound effects that perfectly fit the themes and tones of the situation. From the faint water drips in a leaky sewer, to the sound of a creaky, rusted pipe valve – everything sounds fantastic, and gives the world a sense of realness while drawing the player in.
I normally like to go as in-depth as possible when writing a game’s review, but I don’t think I can do Home the justice it deserves, and trying to do so will just ruin this one of a kind experience for you guys. With its unique method of storytelling, simple controls and phenomenal art and sound, Home offers an interactive gaming experience unlike anything else on the App Store. Basically: Buy this game right now.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.