Lucky Pause’s Homesick game is about as far away from the mass-market appeal of games like Call of Duty as it’s possible to be. Slow, atmospheric, and focused on exploration, Homesick is a haunting and strikingly positive game despite its grim nature. Featuring gorgeous environments, a beautiful soundtrack, and a mysterious, rewarding story to piece together, this Homesick game is a strong example of the power of interactive fiction.
Mysterious Story and Moodiness Characterize Homesick Game
When you start Lucky Pause’s Homesick game, you don’t really have much to go on. You’re in a dilapidated building that seems to have been abandoned for a long time. You’re strangely sensitive to light and unable to step outside without being blinded, and any papers or books you find are written in strange, unrecognizable symbols.
While it’s not necessarily treading new ground, Homesick‘s atmosphere makes up for the somewhat clichéd post-apocalyptic setting and gray, desolate building. Though the building is covered in grime and discarded papers and trash, grass and flowers poke up from beneath the garbage. The music is melancholy, but not without its moments of hopefulness, guiding you through the puzzles and matching the pace at which you progress through the game.
The further you get, the more you begin to understand. You improve the world, you suffer frightening nightmares in which a black force pursues you, and you wake up to improve the world again. There’s a relentless perseverance at the heart of this Homesick game that keeps it from feeling too bleak.
It’s not necessarily uplifting or optimistic, but it’s not as depressing as it might appear. As you uncover the story, you discover themes of remorse, of regret, of hope. And while it does have its moments of anxiety and fear (including one moment that’s just shy of a jump scare), its ending is far more inspiring than it might appear.
Homesick Game Features Slow Gameplay But Difficult Puzzles
Lucky Pause’s Homesick game fits neatly into the Gone Home style of gameplay in that it’s largely driven by exploration. You’ll spend most of your time wandering at a slow pace (a very slow pace, compared to other games—while walking in the same direction will cause your character to speed up, making your way across a large room can be an exercise in tedium), finding items and uncovering the plot as you go.
There are a few puzzles, some of which are deceptively tricky. They require piecing clues together in a way that many of the Homesick game style don’t, lending it much more of a puzzle game feel. In the puzzles, the slow pace again comes into play—you have to take your time exploring and putting together the clues to solve larger puzzles. Rushing through will get you nowhere, and likely inspire more annoyance than if you approach it methodically.
Gorgeous Environments and Music Give Homesick Game a Melancholy Tone
Homesick is a visually stunning game, built in the Unreal engine and making full use of lighting effects, immersive environments, and natural beauty in a three-dimensional setting. It’s a pleasure to look at, as screenshots show—the blend of overexposed light and dark shadows perfectly suit the mood and add a great deal to the atmosphere.
In the nightmare sequences, the art is unnerving but not necessarily frightening—while some elements of fear are there, it’s certainly not a horror game. A black, liquidy substance flows up from the floor and threatens to swallow the player if they don’t progress. It’s a great incentive to keep moving, even if the consequences are minimal; on being caught, you simply wake up and can try again. This keeps the anxiety from being overwhelming and allows the player to try again without tons of frustration, making the nightmares easier to handle than the game’s puzzles.
The soundtrack is wonderful as well, featuring an original score that is included in purchasing the game. Though the game itself can be completed in less than two hours, the inclusion of the soundtrack makes the $14.99 price tag a little more reasonable.
Moody and Intriguing, Homesick Game is Short but Powerful
Beautiful environments, a deliberate slow pace, and an intriguing story to unravel for completionists make this Homesick game a moody journey. Atmosphere and gorgeous environments really keep the game going, with surprisingly complex puzzles throwing an occasional wrench in the game’s meandering nature. Though it’s short, it packs a definite punch, showing that an engaging story can be told quickly and minimalistically.
Homesick is available now through Steam for $14.99.