I woke up in a darkened room, with nothing more than a flashlight and the faint smell of blood on my clothes. I didn't know where I was; the last thing I could remember was my girlfriend being scared and then I woke up here. I limped downstairs, my leg aggravated from some kind of injury. That's when I found the first body.
Those are the opening moments of Home, a horror/adventure game from Benjamin Rivers. At first glance people may be inclined to make comparisons with the recently released Lone Survivor, which also sports a sprite-filled art style and horror mechanics. Don't let the 16-bit graphics fool you though, these are two very different games.
Rivers' adventure is more about exploration and discovery, rather than scavenging and survival. Despite the retro graphical style, the atmosphere created by the confronting situation ahead of you is almost stifling, and leaves a hole in the pit of your stomach. Who says you need multi-million dollar budgets to create a real horror experience?
Before long I found myself in some kind of tunnel network under the house, which is where I discovered the disturbing scene of a dead body, some work benches, and a cage that was filled with something moist. Even through it was lacking the graphical fidelity of a Resident Evil production, the entire area made me feel uneasy. I cannot stress enough just how awesome the atmosphere at play really is.
Unlike most horror or adventure games, Home gives you a series of choices along the way. These can be simple choices such as whether you should go snooping through a desk or respect a persons privacy, or whether you should pick up a certain item that will add extra weight as you get around the world. While the demo did show off a few consequences based upon your actions, I can only imagine that these mechanics will play a pivotal role in how the tale unfolds in the full version.
While the atmosphere may be better than most games out there right now, the long extended silences in the audio feed is what really made the experience for me. There was no need for the constant drone of background music, Home really uses sound to its advantage. If you have a good set of headphones, you are in for a treat.
The further I went, the more bodies I found, and the evidence surrounding these deaths was starting to play on my mind a little. Just before I could piece any of this together however, the demo ended and I was left wondering what would happen next.
That is always a good sign; Home sucked me in like no other adventure has this year, and I can't wait for the full release. If you like a little more exploration and intrigue in your horror outings, then Home will be right up your alley. You can pre-order today for a mere $2, or go all out and treat yourself to a super sweet Old School Collector's Edition for $20 from the official website.
By Stephen Heller - Bio