Developer: Benjamin Rivers Inc
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.4.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Update: 7/3/2013, Version 1.4.2
And just like that, Home‘s crashing problems are over. At least on my iPhone 5. The update has gone live and seems to have squashed all the pesky error messages and progress-halting issues completely. Now we’re all free to enjoy this horrific tale of horribleness without the threat of bug-induced interruptions. Yay!

home08Benjamin Rivers’ Home is something I’ve always wanted to play. Unfortunately it’s been PC-only this whole time so I was out of luck. Now that it’s been released for iOS I’ve finally been able to take this psychological trauma engine for a spin, and I have to say it’s unconventional but all kinds of great. Aside from the occasional progress-halting bugs, that is.

Most of what makes Home what it is involves the story. The gist of it is that the nameless protagonist wakes up in a strange house with no recollection as to how or why. With only a flashlight and a sense of foreboding, players must guide him along a nightmarish journey home. Tapping and holding either side of the screen moves the character in that direction, and double-tapping interacts with highlighted objects. It works similarly to a point-and-click adventure game only it’s less about the puzzles and inventory, and a lot more about a steadily building sense of dread and horror.

Home is a scary game. Well, it’s more creepy and disturbing than outright horrific, but the atmosphere is top notch and can make for a very disconcerting first playthrough. The “guide” that pops up when a new game is started had me worried for a bit because it suggests that players put about an hour and a half aside to play it straight through. Of course once I finally made it home it all made sense: this is a game with multiple outcomes that encourages players to draw their own conclusions all the way to the end. In other words, it’s worth playing through multiple times to see what might be different. Depending on what players decide to do and not do along the way, they could end up with a very different ending.

home06As much as I enjoyed playing through Home, I was tempted to give up a few times due to game-crashing bugs. It’s a shame that such a moody and atmospheric experience was so thoroughly derailed, but that’s exactly what happened. I’ve encountered a couple of Fatal Errors along the way, one of which has actually prevented me from being able to progress any further so I’ll have to restart. There are rumblings that Mr. Rivers has already submitted a patch to Apple, but for the time being it’s just not any fun being more scared of possible error messages than the game itself.

Home is still a very moody and freaky game that’s well worth at least a couple of playthroughs, especially in the dark. The only problem is that right now it feels a bit too unstable. And I’m not really a fan of worrying more about bugs than what may or may not be following me through the woods.


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