Title: Home Sweet Home
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Yggdrazil Group
Genre: Survival Horror
Official Site: Home Sweet Home
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Where to Buy: Retail, Steam, PSN, Xbox Live
The past few years in gaming has shown us that the horror genre is one that can produce some incredible titles. Resident Evil 7, The Evil Within 2, Outlast 2, just to name a few. Because these games exist, there isn’t much room for horror games that are just okay. Unfortunately, Home Sweet Home fits into that category and doesn’t present much to be blown away by.
In Home Sweet Home you play as Tim, a man who has woken up in a strange place after the mysterious disappearance of his wife and is tasked with one simple goal: get home. Getting out of the dilapidated building you are trapped in soon becomes complicated once you learn that you are being hunted by malevolous spirits that will try to stop you from leaving however they can. As you navigate the haunted labyrinth, you’ll have to desperately search for clues leading to the disappearance of Tim’s wife (which make for some refreshingly gripping collectibles); all while making it out alive. The story, though simple, is enough to keep you interested over the course of the game’s length (which is around 3 hours or so). It should also be noted that, while Home Sweet Home certainly falls into some cookie-cutter horror game tropes, it brings a new dimension to the genre with the inclusion of some pretty intriguing Thai folklore; something many players may not be all that well-versed in.
The gameplay here is pretty simple and probably familiar to anyone that has played a horror game in the past few years. You defenselessly run around the game’s setting, solving puzzles and searching rooms while avoiding the area-scanning enemies so they don’t kill you. If you’re seen, you can run and hide in a locker (which is now a huge horror game cliché at this point) until the danger passes. This is the type of formulaic gameplay that ultimately brings Home Sweet Home down a few notches in terms of originality.
One of the title’s main antagonists, a pale and bloodied girl that lurks within the building’s halls with a box cutter, has some pretty hit-or-miss AI; sometimes forgetting about you even though she clearly saw you stuff yourself into that metal box. When you are actually spotted, however, it makes for some of Home Sweet Home‘s most genuinely terrifying moments. The swelling of the music and the growing feeling that your assailant is gaining on you is enough to raise the hair on your arms. It provides a nice adrenaline rush and brings some real fun to the sometimes sluggish gameplay.
The second part that makes up much of the gameplay is puzzle-solving. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill in this case, usually involving the collection of materials required to pass into the next area. It’s not particularly challenging, but still fun enough to change up the pace a little bit and inject some variety. The rest of Home Sweet Home is, at its base, a walking simulator and collect-athon that takes a hefty amount of inspiration from games like Amnesia and Layers of Fear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because those games are great, but it doesn’t exactly bode well for Home Sweet Home when it comes to setting itself apart from the rest of the pack.
Perhaps the best part of Mastiff’s take on the horror genre is its sound design. When playing with headphones (which is recommended), the atmosphere is bone-chilling and keeps you profoundly disturbed as you round each corner. The anxiety of not knowing what lies ahead is palpable and Home Sweet Home‘s greatest achievement by far. The ambiance itself is enough to have you ripping your headphones off in fear more than once.
For such a small game, Home Sweet Home looks pretty good. Aside from a few weird-looking textures, the graphics are pretty consistent and you won’t experience any frame rate drops. Some of the areas are a bit samey but are realistic enough to sell the game’s spooky aesthetic. Though this is a review of the regular PS4 version of Home Sweet Home, the whole experience would be most-certainly enhanced by its PSVR capabilities on all fronts.
Verdict: So, what’s the bottom line? Home Sweet Home isn’t a must-play when you stack it up against some of gaming’s greats within the horror genre, but if you have some room in your backlog of titles, it’s worth the playthrough. Though sometimes a little too familiar to feel new, it’s an enjoyable time and one that should be given a chance by fans of frightening experiences.
- Chilling audio design
- Terrifying ambiance
- VR capability
- Intriguing lore
- Some decent scares
- Feels too familiar to other games within the genre
- Not very challenging
- Hit-or-miss AI
- Some repetitive gameplay