Release Date: June 1, 2012

Developer: Benjamin Rivers

Platform: PC

Home is a self-proclaimed horror/murder mystery game with a twist, developed by a single man named Benjamin Rivers, and available for a humble $2. In Home, you take the role of a nameless man in a highly pixelated world. He lost his memory and has no idea where he is, so he grabs a flash light and the “adventure” begins, so to speak.

The controls are very simple, you use the arrow keys to move left and right, or shine your flashlight upward, and you press the spacebar to interact with objects. As soon as you start to venture from the start of the game, you’ll run into a human corpse, and it won’t be the last. This entire game will involve you discovering the bodies of recently murdered people, solving easy puzzles, and digging up as much evidence as you can to try and piece together what exactly is going on.

Everything you perceive in the game is based upon the main character’s perspective. He can’t remember much so he’s often very confused about everything. You essentially read his thoughts in a large gray dialogue box which fills up the entire game screen for seemingly no good reason at all. For one, the game pauses when the dialogue box comes up, and secondly, the text pans at a rather slow speed and cannot be sped up or skipped. Overall, the way that the dialogue was handled in the game seemed rather poor from a design perspective, and became noticeably irritating on several occasions.

Aside from the atmosphere, there really isn’t any part of Home that could be considered scary. It is hardly a horror experience in the traditional sense. The game takes on a rather, let’s say, “realistic” premise from start to finish. By that I mean, there are no monsters or crazy things that don’t exist which would generally be used to instill fear more effectively. Unless you are very scared of highly-pixelated human corpses, then this game probably won’t frighten you. It is safe to say that Home fits more into the genre of murder mystery rather than horror.

And the mystery itself is a large part of what the game also has going for it. In addition to the nice atmosphere, another positive aspect of this game is the mystery itself. As you approach the end of the game, your character will ask many yes or no questions on a variety of things (ie. Was X person involved in the murder, what happened to someone close to you, etc). Why exactly your character somehow decides these things is uncertain. Maybe he is schizophrenic or something. But this open-ended and ambiguous format for an ending can have you replaying the game multiple times and seeing completely different results in an effort to uncover more clues.

Unfortunately, the malleable vagueness of the ending also means that the game can be a little frustrating, as the mystery is never actually solved. You as the player are expected to form your own hypothesis about what happened upon completing the game. It is never revealed who the murderer is, but you can decide who it is. Indeed, you have to make the decision, otherwise you won’t even finish the game. In a sense, if Home succeeds in getting you invested into its mystery, then you may find yourself playing the game in your mind, rather than literally playing the game.

All in all, Home can be a bitter-sweet experience, it is, by its very design, an unsatisfying game, because things are left open for interpretation. This serves as a selling point as well as perhaps the largest downfall for this game. Although there are flaws with the dialogue, and the game in general can feel a bit tedious (you’re controlling a guy who limps on one leg for some unexplained reason), Home can be worth the investment if you have a love for the murder mystery genre, two dollars, and a couple of hours to spare.

Pros

  • Good sound ambiance
  • Twist ending could have you coming back for more
  • The game is only $2

Cons

  • Slow and intrusive dialogue box
  • The open-ended story leaves something to be desired
  • The game is not particularly scary