Is it safe to come out now? For the last couple of weeks I have been playing through Yggdrazil Group’s first-person horror/puzzle game Home Sweet Home, and those that know me will remember how easily I can jump when playing games of this nature!
With elements taken from Thai folklore which indeed adds to the story and atmosphere, you are fooled into thinking this is another typical horror game when you wake up in a room as a guy called Tim who has no memory as to how he got there but is aware that he has a family that he needs to find.
With the basic scenario set out, you begin your single player mission to walk about the rooms and hallways of the building looking for answers. It does not take that long to come across strange goings-on when you see out of the corner of your eye a girl fleetingly rounding the corner in front of you. You are prompted to follow her and you begin your pursuit down stairs and along hallways. Finally, you discover this somewhat disturbed looking lady in a room and make your approach. Suddenly she screams, spins her head around and raises her hand holding a box knife?! Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!
As you backtrack along the corridor you are pursued by the ghostly nightmare and you quickly realise that the building you are in is also not what it seems. As I opened a door to run back the way I came I was met with a wall on the other side. Time was running out as the female wail got louder indicating that she was nearby. You are defenseless by the way, you cannot engage in combat. My heart beating out of it’s skin, I try another door and am met by lockers. Frantically I try and hide in one, fail and get repeatedly stabbed. Game over and back to the checkpoint I go. Phew, Home Sweet Home is not very forgiving!
Second time around and I manage to hide in a locker and she disappears through a hole of blood in the wall. Yes I did it, I am alive! Feeling relieved I wait for my heart to settle, pick up my controller and explore once more.
Puzzles in Home Sweet Home mainly involve an obstacle in your path, such as a locked door, requiring you to locate a key. There are not any hints to giveaway any locations however one thing I did begin to realise was that the game was very rail-roaded and linear in design, not that this was too much of a bad thing as it makes exploration a little easier.
When searching the areas, the majority of time you will be left alone, all be it the odd jump scare here and there to keep you on your toes. That said, there is always the chance of an imminent threat resulting in some very quick thinking in order to avoid death. Home Sweet Home can be frustrating at times as if you are caught off guard you will need to keep going through solutions until you find the correct one. I did also find that it doesn’t seem to matter how much noise you make as the ghost appears deaf, and sometimes even blind. While sneaking around I came across her and ducked behind a pretty seethru bit of scenery. Despite her looking at me, she never saw me. Saying that, do not be too complacent as there were also other moments where I was seen through walls!
If you ever remember games like Silent Hill or F.E.A.R, you will be all too familiar with the horror elements that really added to the games and Home Sweet Home is fairly similar. Doors open and close randomly, items slowly move infront of your eyes and ghostly shadows pass by, all serving to set off those nerves!
The story behind Home Sweet Home is slowly revealed to you by finding newspaper cuttings and other documents as you explore around the areas. Will I ever get out of here?
Home Sweet Home is Yggdrazil Group’s first adventure into the world of computer games and are infact predominantly a visual effects company who work on film post-production. This is certainly evident when it comes to the lighting effects and mythical magic that you encounter which seemingly animates visually well. When using the torch to explore, the red blood on the floors and walls glistens as haunting shadows of nearby objects dance in front of you. Home Sweet Home is by no means seriously testing the graphical capability of the consoles however the graphics and artwork are constant throughout.
Home Sweet Home has a suspenseful main score to accompany you while you effectively play hide and seek with a ghost and it suits the game well. Overall the sound design is probably one of the best bits to Home Sweet Home and serves to not only set the chilling ambiance but to also make you jump out of your skin at times. The scream that the ghost emits when she is after you is pretty chilling and like a pavlovian dog, you will begin to run on hearing it in order to quickly seek a place of refuge.
Home Sweet Home has around 6 hours of gameplay to it and I would say hardly any replayability. There is a story to it, a linear direction to follow and puzzles to solve all while playing hide and seek with the knife-wielding ghostly girl. Some puzzles are fairly simple to solve but there are some that appear to have zero guidance meaning you can spend longer in certain areas while you try and figure them out. There are some collectibles to find and piecing together the storyline through newspaper clippings you find gets quite interesting as the game progresses and you learn more about Thai lore.
There is a PSVR version out now which I have heard is supposed to be one of the best horror games people have played on it. I can imagine on that platform it would serve to immerse you further and probably cause a heart attack. There is also a second episode coming later on as well.
If you enjoy horror games like Outlast then Home Sweet Home is definitely for you, yes it sure made me jump and the story was intriguing however I did find sometimes the interaction with objects, particularly when trying to hide could be a little hit and miss, costing you your life!
I award Home Sweet Home the Thumb Culture Silver Trophy!