I’m just going start with this, freaking awesome. Home Sweet Home is a new horrifying survival game from both Yggdrazil Group and Mastiff, and boy, have they done an impressive job. With photo-realistic graphics, a solid story-line and enough jump scares to leave you mentally scarred – and not wanting to walk the dark hall to the toilet – this is one guaranteed heart stopper. Horror has not had the best response over the last couple of years. Games in the genre have often suffered from either poor visuals, bad story-telling or have been down-right glitch ridden.
Home Sweet Home is here to show us that horror is still alive, or dead, or a humongous black monster wanting to slap the life out of you. The first in a series of terrifying first-person horror games, the game throws players into a dark and twisted labyrinth, where an overwhelming fear fills the air, dread bleeds through cracks in the ceiling and seeps down through broken floorboards, and anxiety grows stronger with every step.
After a long night filled with mourning and sorrow over the recent disappearance of his wife, protagonist Tim awakens to find himself in a strange, dilapidated building instead of the comfort of his own home. Naturally confused, he desperately begins to search for a way out while attempting to solve questions that could lead to answers regarding his wife’s disappearance. At the same time, he’ll find himself being hunted by malevolent spirits and beings.
Headset on and lights off, I loaded the game and prepared for the worst. The first thing I noticed about Home Sweet Home is the crisp, photo-realistic look of the game, very P.T. Even without X-Enhancements, this offers some of the best visuals I’ve seen in a horror survival for a long time. The shadows which cast over the blood soaked walls projected from the bright florescent lights, add an element of terror that really works against a modern setting, which in my view creates a far more scarier atmosphere.
Similar to the Amnesia game series, the player must rely on both stealth and running to escape the horrors attached to your back. Similar mechanics also accompany Home Sweet Home and allow players to hide, run, and defend if caught. Hell, even the spirits have more weapons then you do. If you can, imagine hiding in a dark cupboard or locker whilst listening to your own breathing, then you hear the slow slide of a Stanley Knife opening and retracting, yeah, have fun with that thought.
The sound effects are ear piercing and true to life – as far as horror is concerned. The sound adds a great deal to the scary scenes in this game, not that the visuals aren’t scary, but the sound tops it all. Screams, cries and moans all play a part here to alert the player, or to give the player the sheer creeps. As with most horrors, an onslaught of puzzles come into play and direct you to find the right items, or toggle scenes to new areas.
Some examples may be that you need to blow out three candles scattered throughout the complex to allow access through a certain door, but each of those candles has its own puzzle. These are not too difficult to accomplish, but do add to the overall length of the game. Along with incense sticks that you can light to create diversions as per-Thai culture, Home Sweet Home is littered with references to the culture and lore, with books, notes and other collectibles that explains the Thai spiritual background in more detail.
Besides a couple of issues, such as the A.I. not responding quite on time or walking into a wall while looking for the protagonist, the game runs really well. These sorts of bugs are generally whipped out before or shortly after release. Home Sweet Home also caters for the VR enthusiasts, though unfortunately, we Xbox fans have yet to dive into the world of VR. That said, the game will allow other console and PC users to enjoy the game in other ways and I can only imagine how horrific this game will be in Virtual Reality.
I, for now, will dream of the day we see Xbox VR. As always I wont diverge all the secrets of the game. The surprises are the best part, but the big question is, is Home Sweet Home scary? Yes, it definitely is and will likely have you hitting the off button faster then ever before. The game holds up alongside the likes of Amnesia and Outlast and could quite possibly rule the horror world if continued correctly. Home Sweet Home is a crucial buy for anyone interested in games of this caliber. You can bet I’ll be eagerly awaiting part two in the series.
Home Sweet Home is a guaranteed heart-stopper and gets a lot right with the tools that it uses. There’s the occasional issue to contend with, but the bottom line here is that this is a top survival horror title for the enthusiast of games such as Amnesia and Outlast, developed meticulously to relay the same style as that of the infamous P.T. It’s stunning, it’s intriguing, and it’s very, very scary.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.