Review: 'Home Sweet Home' (PS4)

Review: 'Home Sweet Home' (PS4) MASTIFF GAMES

I do much better with 80’s hair metal than I am at surviving horror games; so when I got word of Home Sweet Home I was on a instant high. When it arrived however, I quickly realized it had nothing to do with Nikki Sixx, but instead, revolved around terrifying stories from South-eastern Asian mythology. And I’ll be honest, I’m a scaredy cat. I get scared easy and ever since Fatal Frame on the PS2, I haven’t been able to muster through a horror game to 100% completion. But, with my PlayStation VR headset on and headphones in, I was determined to do my best.

Home Sweet Home is the first in a series of first-person horror games set around Thai mythology. You play as a man named Tim who wakes up not knowing where he is or why he’s there but he wants to get home... Home Sweet Home. Later, you find out Tim’s wife is missing and the strange things you have encountered start to connect with her disappearance. The story is quite original in a since, however, it’s confusing at times. I feel the jump from Asia to the USA might have been the issue in explaining the story. Imagine explaining Slender Man to someone from another country, small details you’d notice right away would get lost on a person who didn’t really understand the story. I feel if I was more in-tuned to Thai culture, I might have picked up on what was going on a lot quicker and small happenings would have creeped me out more than I already was. After the fact, and a quick Google search later, I felt more uneasy about things I saw in the game, because the stories behind them are just really good and new to me.

If you have played any of the horror games released in the last five years; Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast, Alien: Isolation, or Resident Evil: Biohazard and you’ll know the game play right away. It’s not reinventing the wheel there. But on a high note, your flashlight doesn’t die. So for that, I give it a bonus star in my wimpy kid review. But if you have played any of those games you know there’s a evil “thing” that chases you and you hide, here it’s a female spirit, and yeah, I didn’t like it. Not in the “it’s bad” way but in the “I didn’t like it cause I’m now really scared of her” kinda way.  Her screams constantly caught me off guard, and her slow, methodical movements really creeped me out. You will find her intelligence is rather bad though. After your first few encounters, you’ll realize she’s quick to give up a search, even if you hide in plane sight of her. But later you meet other enemies that don’t suffer the same issues, which I’ll let you discover for yourself.

The game looks good using the PSVR headset, textures and lighting look as you’d expect in a dark setting. I will tell you the hands and other things look rough the closer you get to them, so a little more polish wouldn’t have hurt. But like the story, this game really picks up near the the end, without spoiling too much, the room filled to your chest with blood looks, and in VR feels amazing. Creep level over 1000 as the streams of crimson rolls down from the ceiling, and stacks of classroom desks prove your only reprieve from the murky depths of gore from under you. But it takes a good slow methodical build to get there, and the payoff is well worth it.

The audio is something else I need to add some props too. One of the first “nopes” (things that make you go “nope” and turn off the game or movie) I encountered was the music and natural sounds of the game. They use a steady drum beat throughout the game that, at least for me, matched the rhythm of my heart, as the game progressed the drum go quicker, so did my anxiety. A simple tool that works, and in Home Sweet Home, it worked. The interaction audio however gets repetitive as you explore as Tim, his comments and his heavy breathing are pretty repetitive and really offer nothing more than what you need, again a little more time and polish it could really wow me in the next offering.

Last is the puzzle elements of the game, once again we feel this slow build to things. You start with “find a key” but near the end the puzzles start to get cruel, particular having to cut locks off doors as you hear the hair-raising sound of something coming towards you. Again classic horror tool that works so very well when submerged in VR.

Home Sweet Home isn’t reinventing the wheel, but by no means is that a bad thing. The game used what it had to tell a story not many of us may not know, and it did it really well in fact. The issues were notable though, polishing the graphics, audio and even the story in some parts could have really pushed me into a whole new level with this game. And, the intelligence of the characters in the game was almost comical after a few encounters, which to be fair is something even big name studios have issues with.

On the scale of games, it’s good. But on the scale of wimpy kids like myself, it’s really good, and creeped me out enough to damage my sleep schedule.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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