I went into playing Home Sweet Home expecting a somewhat boring walking simulator as I’ve found with lots of modern horror games, but was pleasantly surprised and ended up thoroughly spooked. This game in its simplicity shines through with the atmosphere and edge of your seat gameplay that will have your heart racing almost instantly. I haven’t played a spooky game since Silent Hill on PS1 because I just don’t do well with jump scares, but this game wasn’t half bad at all.
Home Sweet Home
Developer: Yggdrazil Group
Platform: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Playstation VR, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Release Date: September 27, 2017 (PC), October 16, 2018 (PS4, XB1)
Price: $19.99 (Review Copy Received)
The first thing that caught my attention was the smooth gameplay and easy pick up and play controls. I’m no stranger to difficult gameplay as I’ve been gaming for 30 years now; I was 6 years old when I got my first Atari 2600, so I’m long in the tooth in that sense. I was able to hop right in and took on the role of Tim, a guy searching for his wife Jane.
I was taken inside what seemed to be a haunted school, Tim and Jane’s family home, and a haunted police station. I found myself being thrown into situation after situation with limited abilities and no way to cheese anything to win, forcing me to use the brain that god gave me.
The downfall to that however, is the frantic sense I get when trying to run away from a monster, and my character just can’t seem to get away; improvisation was necessary by hiding in a locker or barrel like Metal Gear Solid, which was a nice touch, although annoying.
The ambiance and music mesh together quite well because what makes or breaks any good spooky game is the sounds. The sound of your footsteps thumping the ground, along with the wheezing of the ghostly girl chasing you while clicking her box cutter over and over sent chills down my spine.
There’s also a part where you encounter a giant lumbering beast with one big red eye and a roar that caught me off guard and made me jump out of my skin the first time I saw it. The music is very subtle and when you’re spotted or being chased, it kicks in immediately and flawlessly; the score was put together very well in this game and really shines throughout.
The only gripe I had with the music is that it would jarringly transition from too soft to blaringly loud when being chased, and I ended up cutting the volume down from inside the game settings. That probably screwed me in the long run because it just made the other sounds hard to hear, and I ended up being shanked multiple times because I couldn’t get away fast enough. There’s no way to separate sound effects, music, and voice- just one slider in settings.
The story is a bit lacking, but it brings it all together for the most part the more you progress. Basically, you’re Tim, a man that wakes up and finds his wife Jane missing from their home, and goes out to search for her; as if seeming to be in some kind of dream sequence, you’re whisked away to several supernatural locations.
You have to flee for your life from a sadistic, whispering ghost with a stabbing fetish, small imp-like demonic abominations , giant lumbering beasts with huge slappy hands and glowing red eyes. The story refers to a lot of Thailand based folklore, where most of the ghosts originate from. Namely one called a Preta.
The Sanskrit term preta means “departed, deceased, a dead person”, from pra-ita, literally “gone forth, departed”.
In Classical Sanskrit, the term refers to the spirit of any dead person, but especially before the obsequial rites are performed, but also more narrowly to a ghost or evil being. The Sanskrit term was taken up in Buddhism to describe one of six possible states of rebirth. The Chinese term egui (餓鬼), literally “starving ghost”, is thus not a literal translation of the Sanskrit term.
Personally I like a lot of lore to reference in a game, and see as I’ve played pretty much every RPG / JRPG made over the years, rich lore filled stories are a good sign for a decent game. If a game doesn’t have a story at all, then what’s the point?
I do admit I like a good mindless open world crafting game like what State of Decay 2 for example offers, but I expect that in a game like that which is marketed as such. This game was marketed and pitched as a good spooky game to play in the dark, and has quite a few jump scares in it, but not to the point it’s annoying to deal with.
As long as you use your wits to overcome your obstacles, you’ll be fine and be rewarded with a decent experience. If you go into this game expecting something like Five Nights at Freddy’s or the like, then you’re mistaken as it’s not that in the slightest. If anything, it’s worth checking out for a solid time waster.
Home Sweet Home was reviewed on Xbox One using a review copy provided by Mastiff. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.