In recent years, the indie game market has grown exponentially, thanks to the ever-expanding digital marketplaces across the internet. Self-promotion has become easier than ever, and independent developers are now able to release their products in a much simpler way, and across multiple platforms. With an increased focus on indie games, developers have gained the ability to experiment with interactive story-telling as an art form, and Home is one of the most intriguing experiences on the market.
Created by Benjamin Rivers, Home is a retro-style horror adventure that puts players in the shoes of a man who has just awakened in a strange place with no memory as to how he got there. Armed with only a flashlight, it is up to the player to explore the world and uncover the story at his or her own pace. It’s impossible to talk about the story without giving away any spoilers or ruining the experience of uncovering the details on your own, but one thing can be said; it is dark, emotional, and very well-written.
There are no enemies to encounter, as the game is all about exploration and story-telling. Exploring the different locations is as simple as using the arrow keys to move left or right through the side-scrolling environments, using the space bar to interact with objects. Examining certain objects and picking up others will give you a lot of details about the events of the story, but there is a bit of a twist. Everything you do in the game, and I mean everything, no matter how minor it may seem, has an impact on the way the story plays out. Did you miss finding the key to that locked room? Perhaps it contained a vital clue that will help you down the road, meaning that now your character will not understand what a certain picture means, or will not be able to open certain areas.
All of this plays into the ending of the game, which in my experience can differ greatly depending on rooms that have been explored, or objects that have been picked up or left behind. At the end of each location, the main character talks to himself, informing the player of his conclusions, or concerns, about what he encountered. It give you a real sense of immersion into the story, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in his quest to find answers.
Graphically, Home presents a very detailed and interesting world, while maintaining a retro pixel-art style. It has a real sense of charm and is a nice throwback to the old PC adventure titles, proving that when it’s done right, it doesn’t take fancy graphics to give you a real sense of horror and foreboding. The sounds also pull you into the tense atmosphere, and the game is best played with headphones.
The one issue I had with the game is that there is no save feature, so it needs to be played in one sitting. That being said, however, it only takes about an hour to play through the game from beginning to end. While it seems very short, it is the perfect length for a game that is all about replaying to find new endings and details. The ending leaves the player to devise their own interpretation of the story, and also gives a link to a community that is all about sharing your ending with others.
Home is a very interesting piece of interactive story-telling that should be experienced by anyone who appreciates the more personal and artistic side of video games. With a well-written story, an immersive atmosphere, and almost endless replayability, all for a $2 price tag, this is one indie game that you shouldn’t pass up. Grab your headphones, turn out the lights, and head over to Home Horror to download a copy of the game. You won’t be disappointed.