The majority of horror themed video games rely on the ever present threat of danger to instil a sense of fear in the gamer. This is often achieved by the placement of grotesque enemy types, or environmental hazards within the game world. But, what if the element of danger was removed from a game? If there were no creatures hunting you down, and you could no longer die, would a horror game still be scary?
This is the very question Benjamin Rivers has set out to answer by developing upcoming horror title, Home.
Scheduled for release this summer, Home, is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game. It’s very much a deconstruction of the horror genre. Rivers has taken a stripped back approach to game development. By using an 8-bit aesthetic and simple exploration based game play, he is focusing on delivering scares the old fashioned way. In essence, creating an interactive horror novel.
With such a heavy reliance of narrative, its a relief that Home looks set to tell an excellent story. One that opens in admittedly familiar territory but soon develops into a rather interesting and addicting murder mystery. One that may or may not be tinged with the supernatural. It’s a well written and suitably dark story that works to create a great sense of unease and impending danger within the player.
What’s particularly special about Home‘s narrative is that subtly adapts to reflect your actions. Lending a choose-your-own-adventure vibe to proceedings. Rivers has stressed that there is no right or wrong way to play Home, but however you choose do so, he aims to make sure you walk away with a complete narrative experience. Albeit one that might differ greatly from another players story, meaning Home could be the genesis of some really exciting “what happened to you?” type discussions post-release.
Story aside, sound has always been a key component in horror entertainment. Home is no exception. Here the sound design is perfectly implemented, serving primarily as a atmospheric enhancement, but sometimes as a gameplay cue. The whole thing has an understated air to it, that is only reinforced by the complete lack of musical score. Which in itself reflects the isolated, sinister and doom-laden nature of the story.
After spending just a short time with a preview build of Home, I am extremely eager to get my hands on the final product. The adaptive approach to narrative and simplistic gameplay work to deliver scares that work on a subconscious, suggestive level. It’s a genuinely uncomfortable experience that is shaping up to be a real treat for gamers. Especially those amongst us who love a good story.
Home is now up for pre-order over on the official site. It’s priced at the insanely cheap $2. Alternatively, you could plump for the Old-School Collectors edition which nets you a signed, physical copy of the game and some beautiful looking feelies, which, in my opinion, is an absolute steal at $20.
Developer: Benjamin Rivers
Release Date: 1st June 2012