House of Caravan
Gameplay 3
Graphics 6
Sound 5

House of Caravan is a first-person exploration and puzzle game set entirely in a small, deserted mansion. The limited amount of puzzles are disappointing, to say the least, and slowly creeping through the mansion opening every cabinet and drawer grows old very quickly. Thankfully, the game can be completed in less than 90 minutes, provided you manage to avoid the bugs and wonky physics. This game could have done a lot more with the story and setting but ended up falling far short in all areas.

Gameplay: Slow, tedious, and boring.

Graphics: Decent enough, but very dark.

Sound: Stilted voice acting and unmemorable music

Summary 4.7 Average
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House of Caravan

Developer: Rosebud Games | Publisher: Senpai Studios | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Puzzle / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

When a game states that it was made up of award-winning experts who previously worked on Silent Hill: Origins, F.E.A.R Extraction Point, and The Witcher it’s hard not to build up certain expectations. Unfortunately, House of Caravan, the debut title by Rosebud Games, falls far, far short of these expectations. While it may seem like a horror title it is actually a first-person exploration and puzzle game that is lacking in both exploration and puzzles.

The game opens with your character, a young boy named Lester, waking up in a strange mansion in the middle of the woods. The time period is the early 20th century and the last thing Lester remembers is getting captured by strangers after walking back from school. Players must help Lester explore the mansion and uncover clues about the occupants and their reasons for kidnapping him. The mansion appears to be completely deserted, though, and despite what the creepy music might try to imply, there is nothing that can harm you in any way. The entire game takes place in a single night inside the mansion and the developers claim to have been inspired by Edgar Allen Poe and classic horror films. These are not bad influences to have, but when it results in 90 minutes of slowly walking through an empty house while rummaging through cupboards and drawers we have to wonder how things went so wrong.

House of Caravan appears to run on the Unity Engine and looks decent enough for its time although most of the mansion is shrouded in darkness. To overcome this Lester must find enough matches to light all the candles in the house or make use of a torch to examine some of the darker corners. The mansion is not very big, but virtually everything in it can be picked up, examine, and then thrown around or broken. As tempting as it may be to do the latter, it’s not recommended as the physics is extremely wonky and you are liable to send Lester shooting through the ceiling if you mess around with it too much. None of the objects that you can pick up and examine are of any use in any case. In fact, it’s quite strange that in a game where you have to search for letters there are so many useless pieces of paper scattered about that when picked up have the same weight and rigidity as wood. Nothing breaks the immersion quite like picking up a newspaper and dropping it to discover it landing with a loud clunk and remaining upright like a stone slab instead of paper.

In addition to the letters that reveal more about the story in the most hamfisted way possible, Lester must also find keys to unlock all the rooms in the house. These keys are usually safeguarded by puzzles of which the game features a grand total of six. It doesn’t help that it’s actually only three different puzzles repeated twice or that we’ve seen all of the puzzles presented much better in the hidden object game genre either. From finding secret codes hidden in photographs to connecting electrical circuits and assembling torn-up letters, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done to death before. Some might consider the objects like hammers, hairpins, letter openers, and knives that can be found to open locked objects puzzles too as each can only be used on a specific thing and are not interchangeable no matter how much sense it would have made.

The audio for House of Caravan sounds like it was composed for a completely different game and continues to build suspense for no reason. The developers have attempted to throw in a couple of hilarious jump scares, such as a window that blows open or glass that suddenly breaks. For some reason, there are also random earthquakes that occasionally shakes the house. Then there are the ominous sound effects that occasionally play and made us think that we were not alone in the mansion. The worst offender, though, is the stilted voice acting for the letters that Lester discovers. It probably doesn’t help that the letters were written purely to explain the plot instead of in a natural way that might have made them sound like actual humans were communicating with each other. The controls are relatively straightforward, but Lester’s slow walking speed and the glitchy physics can be annoying. There is a crouch button that is useful exactly one time in the entire game and having to right-click to cycle through every item in your inventory to get to the one you need is a nuisance.

Suffice to say that House of Caravan was a huge disappointment considering the supposed pedigree of the developers. It took us less than two hours to complete the entire game and get every Steam Achievement. It would have been much shorter too if we didn’t miss one box of matches somewhere in a dark corner and had to search through the entire house again to find it for the “Collector” achievement. Whether you are looking for a horror game or a puzzle game there are far better options available for both genres and House of Caravan is a hard game to recommend even at a steep discount. The wonky physics can lead to some unintentional hilarity, but playing the game as intended makes for a slow, tedious, and ultimately unfulfilling experience.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2 or higher
  • Processor: Quadcore 2.40GHz
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Video card with 512MB of VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 7 or higher
  • Processor: Quadcore 3.2GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Video card Nvidia or ATI with 1024MB of VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: MAC OSX v10.6 Snow Leopard or higher
  • Processor: Quadcore 2.40GHz
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Video card with 512MB of VRAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space

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