Since the launch of the PSVR there has been a notable lack of decent first person horror games, and no one has ever been able to really capture nerve shattering horror since Resident Evil 7. Sure, a few have tried but have always fallen short of the mark. There are plenty of horror games that are out there that are fantastic, but need to incorporate the PSVR into their games as playing on a screen slightly detatches you from any true depth of fear. OK, at first, Home Sweet Home by Mastiff Games doesn’t seem to vear too much from the norm.. you wake up in a house with no idea of what is going on and away you go trying to figure it out and get out of where you are.. but delve deeper, I dare you!
Tim wakes up in a house with no recollection of anything before what is happening in front of your eyes just like most horror games, yes, its been done to death but always seems to work as it saves the developers a huge back story right from the off. Remembering along the way that he has a girlfriend by the name of Jane, the first level is all about escape from the building you found yourself waking in.
The game is built on pure stealth. There are no weapons to help you along the way. Trying to stop you on your journey are blood thirsty spirits out to get you at all costs and these are seriously frightening, especially when you least expect it which all adds to a gripping horror journey. You will need to use problem solving, stealth and wit; something that went right out of the window when I encountered my first spirit in the game. I died more times than I care to admit when I discovered it and the idea was to escape and hide.. FAST.. the game leaves little in the way of making mistakes and it seemed that I was usually a split second too late in finding a good hiding place and would be dragged out from where I was and killed.
I mentioned Resident Evil 7 as a great horror game for the PSVR and I feel that Home Sweet Home is a very close contender for the same title, but at times I actually felt like I was playing within Resident Evil through my VR headset. A lot of it felt a little too familiar especially in the graphical style used. I also don’t know if its just the fact that I’m 6″3, but in both Home Sweet Home and Resident Evil, I always felt like I were in the body of a midget. Beds in rooms looked too small for me to be able to lay out on comfortably, the height of any hanging pictures didn’t feel at the right, the height, the first locker I had to hide in the escape the ghost was the same.. it looked to low for me to be able to comfortably get inside and hide my full body, let alone close the door behind me as I entered it.
The gameplay within Home Sweet Home is simple and linear. Most doors that you encounter are all locked giving you the sense that wherever you are is a lot larger than it actually is, something that the original Silent Hill game did to great effect and saved the developers a great deal of space having to create empty spaces that serve no purpose within the game. The puzzles within the game focus more on finding an object and then having to stumble around to find where that object should be placed in order to proceed and with pretty much zero help or pointers in the game it can become a little frustrating, but its not like you really want to be taken by the hand and guided through something so horrific is it?! The only slight issue is that when you encounter a room that holds some value within it to be able to progress, it is usually occupied by something that is out to kill you and as I said above, the time you are given to find a way to hide and get past these apparitions is very limited and can leave you getting very frustrated.
After the first episode, the game really comes to life and we see a lot of Thai mythology being incorporated into the game, and the sounds, ambience and mystery of the whole game is brought to life really well. Its nice to see a horror game done right. It can be played on the TV, but I highly recommend the PSVR to play through the game with the ear buds firmly in your ears and sound turned up to max. You will find yourself peeking around corners hoping not to see anything waiting for you and the eerie noises will make you duck down in fear of something above trying to get to you.
The design of the game is beautiful and haunting, all at the same time. OK, using the PSVR does allow the graphics to take a slight knock, but I think that’s the norm for most games, or could just be my old eyes struggling, but it doesn’t take anything away from the horror ahead of you. If you do play on just a TV, you can tell that any kind of subtitles were more designed toward the use of the VR, but saying that, I still didn’t really encounter any glitches that were notable within the game.
Home Sweet Home doesn’t come across as a game that is trying too hard to be a horror. OK, some of the jump scares you can sometimes see coming and prepare yourself for them, but they’re not in abundance and dont feel forced; they work very well, and even though I class myself as horror fanatic who doesn’t scare easily, if at all when it comes to movies or Resident Evil 7, I did have 2 jumps that I remember within the game and believe me, it takes a lot to do that to me, so that’s got to be a huge plus point for this title.
My playthrough of the game took about 3 hours once I had gotten used to having to hide from death and doing it fast, its not a huge game, but does feel like the basis for another title in the works, a larger one and a great one at the same time. What Home Sweet Home presents you with is great just short and that’s the only issue I have with it.. I wanted more when it came to the end of the game and I walked away feeling frustrated again that it had not fully delivered on what could have easily been.
All of that being said, the game for me easily warrants a 7/10 for what it does deliver and I just hope that the developers have learnt from this game and strive to make another VR horror which implements the great stuff within this game but at the same time gives us more longevity as Resident Evil 7 does, they will be on to a sure winner.
**PLEASE NOTE: AIR Entertainment were provided with a review copy of the game by our great friends at Koch Media. This has in no way influenced my opinions on the game as per our Review Policy**