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Despite a quirky feline cast, HOME comes off as a tad redundant.

  • Fidchell
  • 01/26/2015 10:01 PM
HOME by Felix "The Judge", is just as the title of this review portrays it as, and I could probably leave it at that, but the game does have its own merits compared to the original as well as a few downfalls. The prospect of reviewing this game almost takes me back to when I was reviewing OFF, and I find that it may be a little difficult to communicate my thoughts on this one without repeating myself, but I am going to try my damndest to make this game stand out on its own despite it all. HOME is labeled as a "spin-off," so it should only be predictable that the game will borrow a lot from its original inspiration. I guess what I felt at the end is slight disappointment that there was not more to this game than I thought there would be. That and I got a bad ending, but I'm not going to judge (hahaha) the score based on something like that. Let's get started.

If you've played OFF, you are going to be very familiar with the locales in this one, because they are almost exactly the same. When it comes to aesthetics, HOME unsurprisingly borrows the same sort of art style you see in OFF, seeing as how it takes place in the same world and all. What I have noticed is that HOME really does more than just simply copy OFF. It carries an additional zone, has a new array of monsters, new battle character sets for the new allies you'll encounter, faceset graphics for items you can acquire, etc. It is clear that Felix has put the effort into making HOME unique on its own despite it being a spin-OFF (hahaha this joke should have been pointed out before), and it is this effort that I appreciate, since it definitely could have used a facelift in some aspects.

Best graphical improvement: Inclusion of facesets for items

The new monsters look nice and look like they fit in the universe of OFF, although I'm not as much of a fan of them as the original array. I've already mentioned I enjoyed the attention to detail given to the items, but another thing of note is that said items have been given their own battle animations for when you use them in combat, which I found another nice touch. Other than the special additions I've mentioned, HOME pretty much uses familiar assets from OFF, some of which have actually been colored. The Elsen and the Guardians most noticeably have been given chromaticity, which in turn gives just a little more life to the strange world we play in. I cannot state how much joy seeing Big Bird Japhet brings me. Facesets for these colored characters, however, remain uncolored, which I personally find a little odd. Also are all the cats in Judge's crew really white-furred?

Favorite colored character: Big Bird / Japhet

Like OFF, HOME makes use of a lot of RTP sounds, those of which are used competently. I didn't find myself putting chisels in my ears, which is a good start. Some of the tracks have been created by Alias Conrad Coldwood, and you won't find these in OFF, which makes them extra special. As I found myself looking at the credits, I've noticed a lot of different people have contributed their compositions to the game, one of them having a name so badass that it would put any contesting furry to shame. I later found out he has probably contributed most of the music that wasn't dark ambience, those of which were created by Felix himself. Mentioning that now, I have to say that the ambience fits the game quite well.

Favorite composer name: xLightingWolFx

Now to get to what almost forced long, sharp, metallic objects into my poor ear canals. HOME has a decent array of music, and they are, like the sound effects, used competently for the most part. Something I've noticed is that the feeling of pleasure in my cochleal region waned with the playing of certain pieces of music throughout the game that were not quite as good as OFF's. In fact, they weren't very good at all and it's hard to recall exactly which ones caused this. HOME's large range of tracks is quite hit or miss, mostly when it comes to boss fights, but as I have stated before, the ambience is spot on, especially with some of the more disturbing occurrences and locales you'll encounter in your playthrough.

Favorite boss track: Vicious Nightmare Process

HOME has a similar weakness to OFF, and that is the gameplay. There have been clear improvements, such as the slight raising of the difficulty (although I think difficulty options have been added since I first played this), and the more attention to detail paid to item animations, but what you'll find in HOME is a very comparable slog you've probably already witnessed in OFF. For the bulk of the game, you'll find yourself visiting zones in sequence to their respective numbers, traveling through said zones and completing their own supplies of brain-busting skill-thinkers, and oftentimes engaging in moments of combat. Rinse and repeat. Something I can give the game praise for is that there are new areas in these zones, making the experience a little more fresh. Aside from that, though, the game does not do more than this, and it is only marginally disappointing.

Most prevalent puzzle: Number combinations

Home requires a little more attention in certain battles, but, like OFF, you can auto-battle since CP is usually not a big problem.

HOME is quite merciful to the player with its save points, which restore your health fully. One can easily grind off of this method, but I'm not a grinder. Despite that, I can say that while the save points are awesome, I would have also liked more of a challenge. Perhaps special save points that you can find through secret procedures?

I have to give distinctive mention to one of the dungeons of HOME, and that is the mandatory trudge through the White Zones. In OFF, visiting these purified zones is purely optional and often yields large amounts of reward. Now that you have to actually go through these sections to progress with the story, their blandness is made known in a very unpleasant fashion. Not only are they populated with puzzles easier than everything prior, they all have the same ambience as well as the same general enemies, including plague doctors with slight fashion changes with every zone you re-visit. Because of this lumber, I can say with a heavy heart that HOME does not really get better as you go along. The Courtroom sequence after the White Zones is not nearly as interesting as the one in OFF and I did not feel very satisfied at the end of the struggle.

Best plague doctor: Zone 0's

Here is another mundane comparison to OFF I'm about to gab about. In HOME, there appears to be a twist in events. This time you are playing as The Judge, the Cheshire Cat look-alike that we should all know from the original source. This is a very interesting turn, as The Judge's small frame and eloquent dialogue could have potential made for some very interesting segments in our feline adventure. Along The Judge's journey to restore order to the world, he comes across three allies who eventually aid him on his quest:

First he come across a brash alley cat known as Alain, who has a gluttonous appetite and sharp tongue. We then rescue our brother, Valerie, from the clutches of Japhet as well as the hand of death itself (if you remember from OFF). We then finally meet a very deviating female that goes by the name Jozlyn, and she is by far the strangest of all. I still can't put my finger on what exactly motivates her to follow us in our tracks, but she does have some use in battle! Alain, though, by far has the most capability in battle and has a very powerful attack that only costed me 3 CP for each use thanks to an accessory I equipped to him earlier on in the game.

Most-Useful-Feline Award: Alain

Are you going to understand this game if you haven't played OFF? Probably not. HOME can be just as confusing as OFF, even if its main cast is a lot more interesting. I have been informed it is practically a sequel to OFF. If the lore expressed in this game is true, then it is apparent that the world is caught up in strange time continuums and that there is another puppeteer playing with the strings. For the most part, HOME's story might have some of its own distinct changes from its source material, but its plot almost seems derivative, even with the change in roles. The Batter is still ever-present and is on the same mission. This time, you must help The Judge cleanse the corruption of the world, except now with a little more sympathy and less killings of Guardians and such. All characters appear to have their memories erased, as if the events are in a constant loop. As I've not so subtly mentioned before, I was unable to achieve the good ending of the game, so unlike the original, except to have to make the right choices in order to make this accomplishment.

The writing is HOME unfortunately does not hold a candle to the more than decent job the translators of OFF have done. There are spelling mistakes and grammatical errors abound, and some of the dialogue exchanged by the main characters are not very impressive. The creator has obviously tried to keep The Judge atuned to his eloquent form of speech, but at some points this is too blatant, and the writing in some parts just comes off as ultimately shabby and devoid of anything interesting. Understandably since we are playing as The Judge this time, his aura of mystery that was in OFF is no longer present here, as his moments of dialogue and interactions with even the most trivial characters are copious here. I will admit there are some moments where his dialect can almost be considered charming though.

Seeing the corner, The Judge might have other methods of fending off sadness and misery.


Mortis Ghost has done well enough with OFF. As a spin-off, HOME is not bad in its own right. It has about the same amount of good thanks to its inclusion of improvements in some aspects, but it clearly does certain things somewhat worse than its source inspiration and can at times feel disconcertingly derivative as it paces along. The way it takes a gradual nosedive towards the end is also disappointing. Despite its flaws, HOME shines in its attention to detail, its attempts to switch things up, as well as its faithfulness to the original. If this is the first time you are going into this world, I would highly recommend the original, but some of the flaws I've mentioned in this review might not be initially picked up if you were to play this iteration first-hand.

Final score:

(would have been a 4 if I played this one first)

Full playthrough below:


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I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
So Judge drinks his sorrows away! Good review.
So Judge drinks his sorrows away! Good review.
In OFF it is hinted that the judge was building a cellar for him and his brother to hide in, which was filled with sugar. So the judge was literally going to drug his sorrows away in OFF.
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