Home is Where One Starts
Gameplay 6
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Help a young girl explore the lonely countryside around her childhood home when she misses her bus to school. Although very short, Home Is Where One Starts is a captivating experience with excellent narration and interesting environments. The short length along with the absence of puzzles or action means it won’t appeal to everyone, but players who enjoy more relaxing titles like Gone Home or Dear Esther will feel right at home.

Gameplay: The walking speed of the protagonist is a little slow and the gameworld small, but exploring it is interesting.

Graphics: The visuals are quite beautiful, but some objects lack detail when viewed up close.

Sound: The soundtrack is excellent and the voice acting superb

Summary 7.3 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Home is Where One Starts

Developer: David Wehle | Publisher: David WEhle | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

Memories are tricky things. Some fade away over time while others stay with us for the rest of our life. Home Is Where One Starts is a game about the memories of a woman who grew up in a broken home somewhere in the American South. It follows the events of a single day where she missed her bus to school and decided to explore the desolate area around her house instead. We get to view the world through the eyes of a child, while the narration is done by a much older version of her, reflecting back on that particular day.

Home Is Where One Starts is not a game that focusses on puzzles or action, but instead leaves players free to simply explore and immerse themselves in the atmosphere. Those familiar with games like Dear Esther or Gone Home will know what to expect, but HIWOS is even simpler. The lonely countryside setting isn’t very big, but from the perspective of a child it had a world of opportunities. However, despite her tranquil surroundings, it is also clear that the protagonist had to deal with plenty of hardship during her childhood. The tiny trailer in which she lived with her father is sparsely furnished and show clear signs of neglect, while outside it garbage and empty beer bottles are heaped up. Careful exploration also reveals the places where the protagonist sought refuge from the depressing conditions at home. Where she retreated into her imagination to make her world a happier place and to get away from the cramped confines of her room. Since the game is extremely short and can be completed in a single 30 minute sitting I don’t really want to divulge any more of the locations.

Apart from walking around and triggering narration for special locations you can also pick up and examine some objects. However, these are few and far between, so don’t expect anything like Gone Home. HIWOS runs on the Unity engine and actually delivers some very nice visuals. Since everything is viewed from the perspective of a small child the world and its objects appear larger than usual, which is a really nice effect. Trees and foliage also sway in the early morning breeze, while the sun rises over the horizon. Unfortunately, up close the objects and textures look a lot less impressive though.

Yet, my favorite part of the game is the audio. A single, slow, haunting melody accompanies your exploration, along with the sound of birds singing and the lonely footsteps of the protagonist. The only voice acting is that of the narrator reminiscing about her childhood, but she delivered her lines in a manner that frequently left me with goosebumps. None of the dialogue feels forced or overly dramatic and the voice actress managed to capture all the emotions perfectly. My only criticism is that I would have liked to hear more of the narration as not everything you find or see triggers a voice-over.

Controls are very straightforward, with WASD handling movement and a single mouse-click for interaction. Since the protagonist is a small child the pace of the game is very slow, which might annoy some players. HIWOS is not a game to rush through though, but to slowly explore while taking in all the detail. The invisible walls you encounter are also a little annoying, but understandable.

The story of HIWOS is not a new one and neither is it very groundbreaking. There are countless books and films that deal with the subject and the developer himself mentioned that he drew inspiration from countryside stories like The Tree of Life and East of Eden. In fact, the title of the game is derived from a poem by T.S. Eliot. Despite all of this the game remains captivating and really captures the feeling of stepping into someone else’s memories. The replay value is not very high, but it is possible to miss a couple of locations, which makes it worthwhile to play through more than once.

HIWOS isn’t a game for players that want clearly defined goals, challenging puzzles or plenty of action. The game offers a calm, reflective atmosphere where there is no rush or danger. Some players will find this extremely boring, while others will appreciate what the game is trying to achieve. The asking price for the game is also low enough to make it an impulse purchase.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP+
  • Processor: Intel i3 or equivalent
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DX 9.0c video card with 256 MB VRAM and shader model 3.0 support
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 575 MB available space
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel i5, 2.8+ GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GTX 570, AMD Radeon 6870, or equivalent
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Hard Drive: 575 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: High processor speed recommended for Oculus Rift mode
  • OS: Mac OSX 10.7
  • Processor: Intel i5 1.8 GHz
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD 5000
  • Hard Drive: 575 MB available space

Related posts

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

The third installment in the popular Princess Maker series is finally available, but unfortunately not in refined form like its predecessors. The game is a lot more streamlined, but with sixty different endings, it still has more than enough content to keep players busy for ages. It is a pity that the game has had such a rocky launch and issues with the translation along with other technical problems continue to plague it, but underneath it all there is still a very addictive game waiting to be played. Gameplay: Schedule your daughter’s activities and raise her to become a princes. Graphics: This game dates back to the nineties, so don’t expect too much, but the pixel art animations are really nice. Sound: The music is decent enough, but can become repetitive, although the voice acting is still good.

Paper Sorcerer

Paper Sorcerer

First person role playing games can be notoriously grindy but Paper Sorcerer manages to deliver an old school experience without any of the tedium. The visuals are stunning, the writing witty and the bite sized levels kept me coming back for more. The game is even more impressive considering that it is the work of basically one person and we can't wait to see what he comes up with next. Gameplay: Old school first person RPG without the grinding. Graphics: Beautiful hand drawn and inked visuals. Sound: I loved the soundtrack but others around the office didn't.

Princess Maker 2 Refine

Princess Maker 2 Refine

It has been quite a long wait, but Princess Maker 2 Refine is finally available to western audiences. There is no denying that it is a very niche title and still has a couple of rough edges to smooth out, but it is still a very addictive title with plenty of replay value. Prepare to lose at least a couple of hours when you get hooked on this game. Gameplay: Very stat heavy, but once you get the hang of how things work it becomes extremely addictive. Graphics: The visuals have been spruced up, but still look a little dated compared to more modern titles. Sound: Nice tunes and full Japanese voice overs.

Defragmented

Defragmented

Defragmented makes the most of its Cyberpunk setting and while the visuals are not exactly cutting edge the gameplay is very addictive. It is a game that is not afraid to challenge players, but prevailing against the overwhelming odds is extremely satisfying. The game also features a synthwave soundtrack so good it is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Gameplay: Fast paced and very challenging, but also very addictive and rewarding. Graphics: Simple, but fitting and the destructible environments are a great touch. Sound: The soundtrack is pure synthwave epicness.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Oceanhorn impresses with its charming visuals and addictive gameplay while drawing a lot of inspiration from the Legend of Zelda franchise. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights as the Zelda games, but it comes very close which is quite impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that it was originally a mobile title and the developers actually put in a lot of effort to polish it up for PC. Thanks to its length, charm and polish we can definitely recommend Oceanhorn to all fans of the genre. Gameplay: More than a little familiar if you’ve played any of the Zelda titles, but still a lot of fun. Graphics: Bright, colorful and detailed. Sound: Decent voice acting and a great soundtrack.

KAMI

KAMI

KAMI is a puzzle game that challenges your brain and not your reflexes, making it quite relaxing to play. The visual design is very nice with realistic looking paper textures, but the game isn't lacking in the gameplay department either. The 63 puzzles can be completed in a day or two, but the lower price point make it a worthwhile purchase if you are a puzzle fan looking for a fresh challenge. Gameplay: Challenging without becoming too frustrating. Graphics: The handcrafted look of the visuals is very easy on the eyes. Sound: Sparse, but very relaxing.

Leave a comment

16 + twenty =