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Going HOME

  • Coelpts
  • 11/09/2015 08:04 AM
  • 1472 views
OFF is a great game. It's a game I, in full conscience and awareness to what I am implying, can also call grotesque, disgusting, even at times putrid. It's a game all about choice and how what little we know can color our worldview in ways we do not expect or remember. It gives you hope and shows you just how foolish blind faith can be, even with the best of intention. It can make you feel powerful yet absolutely helpless: a puppeteer with strings of their own.

Now, we aren't talking about OFF here. Instead we will peel our eyes away from the horrible gem and turn toward a making shaped in it's likeness, of which I am currently writing a review about. HOME, as previously stated in entirely too many words, is a fangame created in the mold of OFF, specifically from the ending and destruction left in its wake. Of course, how can a simple fangame match the handcrafted horror of the original?

Narrative


The story is as follows. Be warned, some spoilers ahead. Nothing that'll spoil the whole game, just little things here and there.
~~~
HOME follows as a direct sequel to the Judge Special End, in which you, Player, reset the world. However, your strings are still wrapped around The Judge, and he becomes your marionette this time around. With knowledge that you made a horrible mistake, you attempt to guide him and atone for your previous wrongdoings. Along your way through the Zones, with the addition of a Zone 4 that generated as a result of you changing your own fate, you discover a menagerie of other kitties that join The Judge and his Puppeteer for various reasons.

The story itself starts out pretty much like OFF, but with an added taste of the butterfly effect. With the Batter without a puppeteer he becomes an aimless wanderer, hardly able to solve certain puzzles and on occasion getting completely lost. With yourself piloting The Judge 5 seconds ahead or behind the protagonist of OFF, certain areas can change completely. One of the biggest early game changes is that The Batter gets to and cleans out the barns as you walk in, while you discover an additional basement layer as he's busying himself. This leads you to find your first party member. The Batter soon leaves and returns to the smoke mines, but because you lag behind, you are blocked from them and instead have to go through the slaughterhouse to solve a problem or two there. This is probably the biggest reason I adore HOME. With The Batter on his own purificatory mission, you watch the outcome of his actions and act outside of them as well.
Favorite Zone: Zone 2

At times, the writing does feel a bit out of character. There were times when The Judge slipped out of his ludicrous phraseology and instead opted to employ a far less loquacious manner of speech, but the majority of this slippage was at the very end of the game. A good number of other characters, if not all then at least most, felt completely in character and realistic within the fantastical nothingness. Even newer entities such as Jozlyn or additional figures from OFF with no prior characterization have their own special charms. I'm rather pleased!
Favorite Cat: Alain

Presentation

Alright, I'm going to be real here. I don't like HOMEs music all that much. That's a manner of taste though, and in the long run it doesn't mean anything important. I didn't like OFFs music much, either. The songs sound good in game, but I really wouldn't add them to my playlist. There's also something mildly unfortunate I feel with the soundtrack of HOME: What the parent game lacked in my personal enjoyment, it more than made up for in atmosphere. The music in OFF is very very unsettling at best, thoroughly disturbing at worst. It could be very solemn and soul-wrenching, dragging on just a bit too long and being just a bit flat, or fabulously sad by being a mite too slow. HOME doesn't really have that feeling to its tracks. I really wish we could have gotten more songs like Tower of Untamed Knowledge, but what we got is still decent.
Favorite tracks: Sugar Coma Foxtrot, Obscure Encounter, and Synthetic Symphony

The art however, if I may admit, is fabulous. Zone 4 fits right into the others with its synthetic, yet chaotic appearance. It reminds me of multiplying bacterium, or perhaps a cell full of viruses after it bursts. Elsen and other characters having added color to their overworld sprites is just fabulous as well! All spectres, from what I can remember, are brand new, as are all Burnt. The Guardians even got a touch up in their battle sprites! I absolutely love every moment of HOMEs art style.
Favorite Spectre: Narwhal

Action

The gameplay from OFF is largly unchanged in HOME. Walk around, get into random fights, do a lot of puzzles. And by a lot of puzzles, I mean so, so many puzzles. It may have been because I enabled puzzle hard mode, but the number of puzzles was absolutely obscene. And I positively loved every millisecond of new puzzle there was. I'm a sucker for brain ticklers and HOME tickled my fancy. One of my favorites, actually, isn't technically 'in game'. It is 'in game', or rather 'in the folder the game occupies', but it's an incredibly clever way to go about things.
Absolute Favorite Puzzle: Zone 3's Sliding Zacharie Puzzle

Combat is still a bit of a slog at times. Around the middle of Zone 4 I began to say 'nope' and Auto every other encounter. Not much has changed, other than the fact that elements are actually useful now. Shocking, I know. Now each member has their own strengths to different spectres, on top of their incredibly varied move sets and stats. No, really. Each character is useful in battle, and I found myself enjoying using their different abilities instead of just going for their strongest attack every time. Otherwise, you've got the same five armor slots with the same 'ticket-flesh-meat' system for items. It's changed just enough to stay the same. I just wish it changed a little more. But hey, it works.
Favorite Competence: Alain's Leeching Palpate

The Ending

Because I am a good person and not a jerk, I got a good ending. Specifically, the best ending. It was incredibly fulfilling, watching what was essentially the original clip show from the Special Ending with your fellow kittens and in color. And I would be lying if I said I didn't cry. Because I did cry. And I wish I could watch beyond the ending, and view the world as it began to prosper once more. Good job, Felix.

Overview

HOME is not perfect. Some puzzles are a bit tough and at times the plot wears itself very thin. There's a bug near the end that gave me a Grand Chocolatier even when I had one, and although the Dopefish in each zone gave me a hearty chuckle, the extra that came from it wasn't exactly a godsend. What HOME is, though, is fun. And that, it excels at. The humor almost always hits the mark, and the game is just as cubey and synthetic as OFF. The game is fun, and all the extra areas really threw me for a loop! The ending wraps up the whole package in a neat little bow. I have atoned for my sins.

Suck it, Batter.

Posts

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Yooo thanks for this great review. I'm glad your sins are free from your shoulder and things are better at heart. <3
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