Home Review – Haunted Bungalow (PS4)
Home isn’t a horror game that focuses on cheap, pop-out scares or battling off hordes of undead minions. Instead, it is a game that looks into the mind of someone who has to relearn and confront his own dark secrets. It’s a different type of scare than the ones we are used to, and that makes Home all the more intriguing.
Honey, I’m Home
The game starts you off in, well, a home — one that the main character has no recollection of. Armed with only a flashlight, the main character, who never gets named, must make his way out of the house and through familiar places, such as his workplace and his friend’s convenience store. As he traverses through these places, he learns more about the strange and gruesome things that he runs into, and at the same time, gains knowledge about his own somewhat troubled past.
Like in standard video games, the player has control over the main character’s movements, which consist of moving left and right, moving the flashlight up and down, and examining almost everything in sight. However, unlike “normal” video game fare, Home doesn’t just allow the player to control the character’s on-screen movements, but it also gives the player control over the entire narrative. The outcome of what actions the player chooses to perform, or not to perform, not only influences the main character, but the entire story itself.
During the course of the game, the player is faced with a number of choices. Some of these seem fairly simple such as do I pick up the gun on the table or not? While others are a bit more complex with one example asking the player: do I think so and so is the bad guy in the game? These choices are not to be made lightly, as they determine the game’s ending and the player’s perception of the characters in the game.
I played through the game twice, as each playthrough only takes around an hour or two, and got a completely different ending each time. In on ending, the main character discovered some of his secrets, while in the other ending, he didn’t have a clue about who he really was. The game is set up so that if I had only played it through once and got the ending where the character did not discover anything about himself, I would think that he must not have had anything to hide. It was only be playing it through again did I realize that he is a completely different person than who I originally pegged him to be.
It’s So… Quiet
That being said, Home wants you to play through it over and over again until you are eventually sick of it. And since it lasts only an hour or two, that’s a completely reasonable thing to want. However, I will note that, like most games, the second time around is a bit of a bore. My biggest issue with Home is the complete lack of music. Now, the first time I played through it, I actually kind of liked not having any music to accompany me — it made the game seem spookier and more intense. Playing it the second time, though, all I wanted was to hear some sort of background noise to help me get through the game.
Besides that audio “issue,” the only other thing that somewhat bothered me was the title’s visual style. The game features blocky, old-school graphics, which work perfectly with the title’s wordy sort of gameplay. I loved the pixely graphics, but I felt like something was missing. When picking up a photograph or a receipt, for example, the game uses text to describe these objects. The text paints a picture of what each object is, but it would have been nice to see a blocky image of the photograph or a blurry-looking receipt. It would have been easier to really get into the game’s universe if it had shown more, rather than relied on words to describe everything.
Overall, Home is a dark and spooky game that breaks away from other horror titles out on the PlayStation 4. With its intriguing story, creepy main character, and amazing $3 price tag, the game makes a great addition to the PS4 and PS Vita online catalog. If you feel like celebrating Halloween with a scary game, Home might be your best bet.
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