Homesick is the videogame equivalent of listening to sad music while doing laundry. Sure, the music is sad, the activity is boring, but that doesn’t make it an emotionally rich experience with commentary on the human condition.
Homesick uses its production values as a crutch, and worse yet, it does a bad job at propping itself up.
The game’s melancholy demeanor would have you believe Homesick is about something substantial. It’s made out as a game with real emotional weight, but Homesick is neither a beautifully composed visual work or a rich narrative experience. Homesick tries desperately to tug at our heartstrings, everything from your character finding a torn picture of flowers drawn with crayon (because ripped up children’s art is always sad) to the revelation these same blue flowers are the game’s central motif feels played out.
Your goal, as you progress through each of the game’s areas, is to bring water to a patch of blue flowers. After each successive watering your character finds a ramshackle bed nearby and tries to sleep. As it turns out, your character is plagued by nightmares that transform the area from an oppressive gray to a terrifying black. The in substantial juxtaposition between the waking areas and the nightmare further emphasizes just how hollow the world of Homesick is.
The real trouble here is context. The world you’re exploring in Homesick is rendering with incredible fidelity, but there’s nothing to see in it. Ok the area you explore is decrepit, and your character suffers from bad dreams, but that’s not a story — that’s barely ambiance. Throughout the game there are notes scattered in the environment, but until you’ve decrypted the game’s hidden language —which happens in the latter half of the adventure— these messages don’t have a chance to provide you with any intrigue. And since you walk at a snail’s pace —in the interest of creating mood— it’s a pretty hard sell to have you revisit the entire game again to find out what story was being withheld from you in your first go-round.
Decoding the game’s hidden language is an unquestionable high point, but it’s not the first time you’ve seen a puzzle like that one — and far from the best example of it. Perhaps with the added novelty of VR Homesick will find new life, but as things are, this is a fairly weak attempt at capturing the mood and magic typical of indie darlings.
- Andrew liked Homesick. He talks about it on the podcast.
- This was by far the worst game I played in the first half of 2015 -- that doesn't make me feel any more badly about giving it a 1-star.
- It gets under my skin when moody indie games are reduced to the "walking simulator" tag, but that notion comes from games like this one attempting to be 'artsy' without sticking the landing.
- Visual fidelity is so high, I wish it were exploited.
- The colour grey isn't very different from black. Contrast.
- YOU WALK SO. DAMN. SLOW.
- There is a plot revelation that is so faux-edgy it drives me nuts.
- Maybe with VR... Maybe.
- Thanks for reading!