October is the perfect month to dive into some great horror games, be it playing them yourself or watching a Let’s Play from the comfort of your pillow fort. Halloween is all about the spookies, after all, and I wanted to draw attention to some of my favorite lesser-knowns in the genre to help spread the holiday… cheer? Yay for murder, I guess?
Anyway, this is where Holiday Horrors comes in! These will be short little posts that serve as an introduction of sorts and will hopefully give you a decent idea of what to expect, should you decide to take the plunge for yourself.
Today’s game comes from Thai developer Yggdrazil Group, who, until Home Sweet Home released worked in the post-production film industry. Their first foray into video games would never lead you to believe it was their maiden voyage, though.
Home Sweet Home is a first-person stealth horror game that’s supposed to be the first in a series of games following the events of the alcoholic Tim and his search for his missing wife, Jane. However, this isn’t your typical missing persons case. During this adventure, Tim is mysteriously sent back through different time periods and stalked by undead schoolgirls and agile monsters, which requires a fair amount of stealth to overcome.
The first section is perhaps the best, which has you fumbling around an old school campus while a box cutter-wielding student lurks around every corner. Sure, she can materialize through puddles of blood, rotate her head around like The Exorcist, and is cursed to vomit nails, but her most terrifying trait is the clicking noise of the box cutter that serves as a telltale sign that she’s nearby. It was always unsettling hearing that click-click-click of the opening and closing of the razor blade that got under my skin.
It’s similar to the Outlast games where Tim is unable to defend himself and must instead rely on recon, pattern recognition, and knowing where his hiding spots are at all times. There are still your Resident Evil-style puzzles to solve (missing fuses, anyone?), hidden documents that reveal more of the folklore and narrative, and dimly lit corridors to explore.
Home Sweet Home is an engaging experience loaded with atmosphere and I always enjoyed learning more about the world around me. It’s just a bummer that it ends on such a cliffhanger and that the sequel, Home Sweet Home Episode 2, barely moves the narrative needle in favor of placing Tim in another horror setting with yet another cliffhanger. The third game in the series releases on Halloween this year, so we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. For now, though, the first game is truly the one to play this season.
It’s currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC for $16.99 USD and ran me about four hours for my first playthrough. It’s a one-and-done kind of game too since most of the scares lose their luster once you know what’s around each corner.
For a more in-depth look at Home Sweet Home, check out my review over at The Well-Red Mage. If you’d rather watch someone play through the game instead, check out the Survival Horror Network’s commentary free longplay below.
Have you played Home Sweet Home before? If so, what did you think? What about the sequel?
Personally, the original game was my favorite horror title the year it released, and while I found the sequel to have the same incredible atmosphere, I was ultimately disappointed by the lack of focus on Tim and Jane this time around. It’s still good, but not what I wanted from a sequel to a game that left on a cliffhanger.