Home: A Uniquely Horrible Adventure in Tedium

Home is sort of a game in that you have to press keys to make things happen on the screen, but there's really no challenge or much interactivity to it. It basically seems to bill itself as a game because if it were a short film it would be way too obvious how shitty the story is. Spoiler alert from this point on.

The protagonist wakes up in an unfamiliar place with no memory of how he got there, so we're off to a great start with that wholly original premise. There are locked doors, items lying around to pick up, a couple of puzzles, but mostly it's just a poorly-drawn dude wandering around in the bubble of light from his torch.

Dead bodies soon begin turning up and bits of the protagonist's past are slowly revealed. It's supposed to be a mystery, but it's blatantly obvious from about five minutes in that the protagonist is the killer and one of the victims is his wife. Turns out he's an alcoholic and his wife was cheating on him with his friend. This is all revealed by about half way through, unless you're playing without paying any attention at all.

An obvious and over-used story isn't necessarily a problem in a video game though because of the whole "game" aspect. They kind of forgot that bit here though. Occasionally you'll come to one of the "puzzles", which means wandering around the few nearby rooms to find the item or switch that lets you progress to the next bit. Sometimes there's a bit of back-tracking and sometimes there's more than one thing to find before you can go on but there is never any more to it than that.

There are also numerous choices throughout the game. Sometimes there's only one option if you want to continue (like picking up a key — you can leave it behind, but you won't be able to progress to the next area without it) and other times your choices have no apparent impact. Early on you find a gun and can choose to take it or not. You never use it.

Clearly the selling-point is supposed to be the story, and the game's writers think they're a lot cleverer than they are. At the end it prompts you to go to their website to share your interpretation of events, and skimming through them after finishing the game I came to the conclusion that the different interpretations are entirely down to whether or not you were dropped on your head as a child, because some people missed the most obvious things.

And you can tell how in love with their story the writers were by the extremely limited choices available to you. It's obvious they never had a play-tester who said "Wait, why doesn't the protagonist just {do whatever}?" or if they did then they never listened to them.

For example, when you arrive back at a familiar location, the factory you used to work at, any reasonable person would just go either straight home or to the police. The protagonist explores the factory then goes to his friend's house. At no point does he ever attempt to locate a telephone.

Not a good story, not a mystery, not scary, not even really a game, Home fails in every way.

No comments:

Post a Comment