I’m a sucker for horror.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way suggesting I’m brave or manly, but show me a game that takes place somewhere dark with only a weak torch for company and I’ll generally pick it up faster than the time it takes to say ‘oh god oh god oh god I’m gonna die I’m gonna dieeeee!’
Of course, usually I’ll play them for about five minutes before turning off the computer and vowing never to touch them again. Penumbra, Amnesia, Slender, I’ve tried and slowly backed away from them all.
Ben River’s Home is a deeply psychological 2D adventure. Waking in an unfamiliar home with no memory of what he was doing or how he got there, your mysterious protagonist faces a long and confusing journey back home to his wife. Whilst the plot may sound about as unique a premise as that of Avatar, Home’s success as a game relies less on the situation, and more on how you react to it.
As you progress through Home, your actions slowly combine to create a story. Not a definitive tale laid out in cut-scenes and dialogue, but vaguely connecting events and sights that combine to hint at what’s going on. Home makes no attempt to explain what’s really happening, or even to suggest that your interpretation of events is the correct one. Are you fleeing from a group of killers, one killer, your own wife or your own madness? Is anything you’re seeing real, or is it all in your mind?
Saluting the sheer variety in its players’ interpretations, Home’s website offers a unique addition to the game. On completing a playthrough, you are provided with a link to a hidden area of the game’s website, where fans can add their own interpretation of events. The sheer variety of opinions and guesses is remarkable, made even worse when you realise that many experienced events differently to you depending on their decisions.
The ambiguity of Home is either its greatest gift or the most infuriating thing about it. Finishing it tends to leave you with more questions than it answers, and remarkably, all a subsequent play-through will do is make you even more uncertain about what’s actually going on. My advice is to take your time, allow the atmosphere and the vagueness to tell its own story, and as a result you’ll find Home has a great deal to offer.
Ultimately, Home will either leave you feeling utterly unfulfilled, or keep your mind racing for hours after finishing it. I’d love to be able to recommend it, but asking me to recommend Home is asking me to read your mind. With one third of the game taking place on your screen, whilst two thirds bounce around the interior of your own skull, it’s a remarkably personal experience, and at less than £2 on Steam, it’s an experience that you really have no reason to miss.
Verdict: On Target
Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC
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