Home Sweet Home Review
Reviewed on Sony PSVRAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PSVR, PC and Oculus Quest
With VR becoming more mainstream, there are certain genres that make for an easy transition. One of the most obvious is horror, putting players in the shoes of protagonists out of their depth and deep in danger. Home Sweet Home is a fun experience, but its insistence on jump scares almost leave it as forgettable one, too.
Waking up as protagonist Tim in an unknown location, players look to piece together the events leading up to his wife’s disappearance. What separates Home Sweet Home from the dozens of horror movies and video games that follow the same rough plot line is its focus on Thai mythology as the basis for its supernatural entities.
While genre staple Resident Evil 7’s first foray into first-person travels to the Bayou to inundate the player with body horror, gore, and the family from hell, Home Sweet Home’s variety of scares help it stand apart. Throughout the six-hour campaign, you’ll stumble upon occult shrines, encounter a giant and monstrous claw, and hear plenty of things going bump in the night.
In true horror fashion, long periods of silence are punctuated by bangs, crashes, and jump scares, and it's with the latter that things get a little tedious. While some scares are well pitched and terror-inducing, it soon becomes obvious when to expect them. This means their impact soon wears thin, leading players pushing through them to progress the story.
The same can be said of the puzzles which feel like filler content - padding to elongate the game’s runtime. They feel arbitrary to the core experience, and while none feel particularly egregious, they feel more frustrating than frightening when trying to solve one under pressure.
Thankfully, the game’s lighting and sound design do an excellent job of immersion. While Home Sweet Home can be played without VR, doing so robs the experience of much of what makes it feel so unsettling - particularly with earphones in. With your trusty flashlight or lighter to illuminate richly detailed rooms, combat instances are few and far between and Tim is forced to hide from spirits. Sound cues help distinguish the location of enemies and position in relation to you, while the almost mundane feeling parts of the building you’re exploring root everything in terrifying reality. When it isn’t relying on cheap jump scares, Home Sweet Home positively thrums with horror atmosphere.
It’s worth exploring every dark corner too, as the game’s environmental storytelling and excellent collectables flesh out the world beyond the walls Tim is enclosed in.
If Resident Evil 7 is VR’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, consider Home Sweet Home as the platform’s analogue to The Grudge. If you’re looking for a world to explore while being scared silly, you can do a lot worse than Home Sweet Home - a very promising debut from Yggdrazil Group.