Review – Home
It’s not very often that I find a mobile game that engages me for a long period of time and inspires me to play it again once I’m finished, but I just found that with the game Home.
While my eyes were glazing over this past week in the middle of a week long visit with lots of family, I decided I needed something to distract me from the endless food, yelling nieces and nephews (darling as they are), and the below freezing temperatures that kept me prisoner in the house. I stumbled on Home while lazily browsing the app store on my iPhone and found this gem from Benjamin Rivers.
The game suggests the player turn off the lights, put in headphones, and play in one full sitting. I wasn’t able to do this (see above comment about nieces and nephews), but my experience with the game was so satisfying, I’m not sure I’d even need the extra help to immerse myself more.
The player wakes as a confused and injured man with no memory of how he got where he is. The night is dark and windy and the only source of light is a small flashlight that illuminates a small radius around him. Gruesome discoveries await the character as he tries desperately to unravel the mystery of what the hell happened to him. The story is told from his perspective with fantastically descriptive narrative and a series of yes or no decisions the player will need to make.
At first the answers seemed obvious – “I found a gun. Did I take the gun? Yes.” – and for a time and I figured that choosing the other option would simply mean I couldn’t progress in the game any longer. Because of this it took me just a little while for the game to really get me fully into it, but I’m glad I stuck with it. There aren’t any puzzles to solve, but there are certainly a few areas that require a bit of general deductive reasoning. Thorough exploration through the various buildings, wilderness, and neighborhoods is definitely encouraged, though I had a hard time remembering where I’d been and where I hadn’t. That only added to the disorienting experience of the game though. I’ll have to go back to explore more since sometimes moving on in the game means there’s no going back and I just had to hope I didn’t miss anything cool.
Home is one of the few mobile games that actually blew my mind. I won’t spoil anything for you here, but there’s a wickedly clever point in the story that filled me with a surprised, excited sense of morbid glee.
The excellent mystery story is the focus of the game. I kept waiting for something to jump out of the darkness, which if you’ll remember is only about two feet in front of the character. I kept hoping I would stumble upon some other person in the game who could help my dude figure out what happened, but there’s no one. Home is a deliciously isolating experience with eerie sound design and a minimal, mood setting soundtrack. If you like playing games for story and atmosphere, then Home is right up your alley in a big way.
Home is available on iOS, as well as PC and Mac on Steam and it gets a 9 out of 10 from me.