Game Reviews

Home - a Unique Horror Adventure

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Home - a Unique Horror Adventure

Benjamin Rivers's PC indie hit makes a welcome debut on iOS, and it's every bit as beguiling and baffling as the original.

Here is a story-led adventure that avoids easy narrative crutches, preferring to allow its players to construct their own tale from the deliberately vague and limited information it provides.

Before you start, the game suggests you set aside an hour or so to complete it in a single sitting. Turning the lights down and donning headphones is also recommended. We'd have to agree, though it exerts such a grip you might have trouble putting it down even if you plan on taking a break.

Thunderbolts and lightning - very, very frightening

The journey begins with your amnesiac avatar roused by a gathering storm, finding himself in a mysterious room he doesn't recognise. What follows is a sequence of troubling discoveries as he gradually works his way back home, determined to uncover the mysteries behind his findings and to get back to his wife as his concerns grow.

Your job is simply to guide him there, tapping on the left or right of the screen to move, and double-tapping highlighted objects to interact with them. You can also touch the top of the screen to hold your torch up in order to illuminate higher areas, though it's rarely required.

The simple but evocative pixel-art conjures an atmosphere as rich as any big-budget horror. Indeed, the limitations of the aesthetic feed directly into what makes Home so successful - both what you can see and what you can't quite make out contribute to the suggestive nature of the storytelling.

There's a subtle distinction from most games in the choices you make, the game's intelligent use of language ensuring it's more about you telling the story rather than the game telling it to you. It doesn't ask whether you want to pick a gun, for example, instead saying, "I didn't take it, did I?"

Work it out

As such, you're given room to interpret your findings and the protagonist's mindset, and that makes the adventure all the more compelling. As the protagonist picks through the dimly lit environments, disturbing sights are described and presented with enough restraint that you're left to fill in the gaps.

While two players will follow a similar path to a similar destination, the paths you choose en route and the items you choose to interact with change the way the narrative pans out - but all of that plays second fiddle to your own imagination.

It's incredibly easy to read something into items and environments that isn't necessarily there, but merely hinted at. You can be convinced of your own personal take on proceedings, but another playthrough might have you doubting yourself.

Back for good?

Home doesn't quite have the same impact second time around - the atmosphere of that initial run is lost as you consciously try to take a different path, picking up items you left alone first time, entering areas you previously ignored.

It's also true that some won't like the fact that it doesn't offer any easy answers, instead leaving you with several unanswered questions as the credits roll.

But the way the story subtly, cleverly adjusts to fit your own perspective makes for an arresting new kind of narrative experience. Home may be over fairly quickly, but it'll linger in your memory for quite a while longer.

Home - a Unique Horror Adventure

A chilling tale told with economy and intelligence, Home is a tense, atmospheric adventure that stays with you
Chris Schilling
Chris Schilling
Chris has been gaming since the age of five, though you wouldn't think it to see him play. Thankfully, his knowledge of the medium is as impressive as his unerring ability to fail at Angry Birds.