It’s really been a while since I last wrote a negative review. Not because I couldn’t find dozens, if not hundreds of poor examples from my own Steam collection, but for a reason that is far more simple. I outright refuse to write about most games I deem as detrimental to my patience/spare time/overall mood. Sadly, my gut feeling does fail from time to time and I end up with a “masterpiece” such as the game I’m writing about today.
Where to begin? Home Behind looks, controls and feels just like the type of video game you’d play for free on your smartphone or other mobile devices. I just remembered exactly why I avoid this type of time wasters, and I won’t acknowledge the vast majority of them as proper games. TPP Studio started on the wrong foot as far as I can regard their Steam debut. Perhaps they’ll learn from past mistakes and their second project might be an improvement. It can’t really be much worse than Home Behind.
At least I was thankful that the antagonists in this title aren’t zombies. I have had my fill of those for the next month at least. The storyline in Home Behind shows signs that the dev team at least aimed for something decent. Players shall unravel the tragic tale and journey of a father desperately looking for his kidnapped daughter. A civil war is being waged in a nameless country and the Rebels in this game, much like in real life, aren’t portrayed as noble freedom fighters but as savages with a penchant for killing people, regardless of what “side of the fence” they’re on. I really did appreciate this perspective on civil war. Just cause or not, it’s as merciless and pointless as any type of conflagration.
Our hapless protagonist has witnessed the murder of his wife and siblings, so his daughter is literally the only person still keeping him alive and determined to survive. The desire to rescue and protect her once more. I can respect that. What I cannot tolerate, though, is the manner in which the story is being conveyed. A side-scrolling experience that is randomized in the wrong manner. On one hand, it’s obviously intended to avoid even more repetitiveness, but on the other, you soon realize that you can die of thirst/hunger at any time, and reloading a previous save file won’t guarantee increased odds of survivability.
I have no idea what graphics engine is powering Home Behind, but I sincerely hope it’s not Unity, for the simple reason that Unity Engine has never disappointed me so far. Don’t be quick to judge me for disliking Home Behind’s simplistic 2D looks. I play and enjoy writing about countless indie games which manage to impress without 3D acceleration. Home Behind features hand-drawn assets which annoyed me due to their repetition. Let’s assume you come across a village or refugee camp in your long and linear journey. The villagers/refugees, even if they’re 5 or 20 of them, will have just two sprite variations. One for male and one for female. That’s it. No extra beard styles, hair color variation or even clothing differences to set them apart. It’s like a nightmare sequence (as if the silent hero hasn’t endured enough already) in which you’re surrounded by clones and even the scenery makes you feel like being stuck in a time loop.
It ran in my monitor’s native resolution plus 60fps, as if that was a surprise. I think that I’d even be able to run Home Behind on my first PC and I still wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The Steam Overlay allowed me to take screenshots, like I always like doing for my review projects. I can tell you that the ones from Home Behind won’t become desktop wallpapers for me anytime soon. It doesn’t look abysmal, since those 2D assets are still light years away from what I’d be able to “draw”. They were just far too repetitive to the point of recycled parody. While searching for his daughter, I was almost lead to believe that the heroic father had passed away and was now walking across some literal hellscape, almost like a trip to Dante’s Inferno. Minus the “fun” within those Nine Circles.
The soundtrack presented itself to me with next to no in-game sound whatsoever. Can’t really judge something I never got to hear. I bet that some funny voices or any voice acting at all, no matter how unskilled, would have at least put a smile on my face enough to overlook some of Home Behind’s other weak points. So the sound effects are few and far between. They really insisted on cementing my already negative impression on this title.
Let me think of what more can be said of Home Behind. If only I could come up with something truly positive about it. I tried. I pushed myself through its simplistic and repetitive gameplay, despite not enjoying it one bit. It was like watching an episode of Family Guy’s latest seasons. The train of originality and fun had left the station a very long time ago. Yet I was still clinging onto the hope of finding a redeeming point. It always ended prematurely, with my valiant survivor, succumbing to his wounds or hunger/thirst despite gorging on resources, like a Skyrim character after a battle. You gotta eat all of those cabbages and potatoes. And then you still die, since they didn’t add enough hitpoints and/or decrease the hunger meter.
Yes, meter. More than one, in fact. This side-scroller really wants to punish you further by only increasing the rate at which you shall perish if you run instead of walking. So don’t run. You’ll only die tired and with diarrhea from that camel corpse you thought would be a good idea to consume as a last ditch effort. Just kick the bucket, pal. It’ll all be over as soon as you uninstall. I was just glancing over Home Behind’s designated genres from its Steam Store page. Adventure and casual, it is not. Survival perhaps, and yet you’ll find the trip almost not worth it.
One of the gameplay’s few bright ideas has to be the crafting system. Too bad it gets spoiled from the scarcity of the required components. Home Behind allows you to trade with the NPCs you meet along your lethal odyssey, but there’s always a fly in the ointment, right? Those friendly refugees won’t trade their stuff with you for just anything or some form of currency at least, as in every RPG I have ever played so far. They want specific goods. You want a can of sardines from Refugee Girl Clone #2? You better offer her iguana-on-a-stick. Nevermind the fact you never encountered that kind of commodity before. You don’t have that, you can’t trade, sorry. Now move along and die from hunger.
I definitely recommend you only purchase Home Behind under a heavy discount or pick it up when bundled with far more attractive titles, if at all. Perhaps it might entertain you for a limited time, but it failed this basic task in my case. There are countless examples of Steam games which simulate the struggles for survival in a more complex or pleasant manner. No need to torture yourself playing Home Behind unless you are fully aware of its inherent repetitiveness and difficulty just for the random sake of it. You have been warned. The ultimate decision is, as always, yours to make and live with.
All the screenshots you see above, have been taken by me in-game through the Steam Overlay.