GAME NAME: Homesick
DEVELOPER(S): Lucky Pause
PUBLISHER(S): Lucky Pause
PLATFORM(S): Microsoft Windows
RELEASE DATE(S): May 28, 2015
Homesick is a beautiful looking 3-D puzzle game with a haunting atmosphere. After waking up from a stained mattress in an abandoned building, it is your job to piece together the story using various puzzles. You know nothing about where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing, only that sunlight is blindingly bright and your surroundings are rather decrepit.
As you wander around the building, you begin to notice certain objects in which you can interact with. Pieces of paper, books, specific objects, doors, etc. As you wander, you try to figure out the details of yourself and the situation you woke up in.
When you complete a puzzle, your character begins to yawn which is your cue to head to bed. This is triggered by watering flowers that you find throughout the building. Your character goes into a deep sleep and wakes up in a nightmare. With an axe in hand, certain areas are no longer off limits to you due to no sunlight, so you can break down that frustrating door that has been stopping you from progressing. You then move on to the next puzzle(s).
When this game came out, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. The trailer had me hooked. Creepy atmospheres, puzzles, and an intricate story are my favorite elements of a game (plus the graphics, WOW).
The best part of the game is really how beautiful it is. The dust particles floating in front of you, the peeling wallpaper, and the stained mattress made my jaw drop. Lucky Pause really paid great attention to the visual design of the game and I applaud them for it. At one point of the game you reach a piano. Each key is playable. Some keys are tuned while others just plunk due to a broken piece in the piano. This fascinated me, and I enjoyed the piano part. Though I am a musician and can read sheet music no problem, I appreciated that they provided a “kid” version of the score so people without music training wouldn’t struggle. The nightmare mode “darkness” that tries to envelope you could use some work, but hey, the rest of the game makes up for that tenfold. It was noted but didn’t detract from the game play in any way, shape, or form.
The soundtrack is also fantastic. Throughout Homesick you are accompanied with a haunting melody that does repeat itself, but is built off of and never gets old. The music itself is rather dreamy and is akin to the piano pieces I listen to when I’m having trouble sleeping. The music completely changes the atmosphere and follows you throughout the game giving you hints as to what is going on. Play the game and that statement will make a lot more sense to you.
There were parts that absolutely frustrated me. As you go through the game you can’t read anything. All text is in a code, and though you find many letters and books to flip through, you have no idea what is going on… Until you get into the nightmare mode. You then notice that the text is now readable. However, since you can’t really stand still for any length of time in that mode, you can’t stop to read.
This means that you kind of blindly stumble through the story line until towards the end. You come across blocks that you can use to decode what the heck everything says… But only if you can figure out the mechanic. I actually looked up a YouTube playthrough at this point and face-palmed when I saw how stupid easy it was. Since the developers didn’t include that in their controls, I had no idea. Yes, I know that was the intention, but at that point it was already so ridiculously frustrating that it just made me mad.
My biggest problem with this game was in fact the decoding. If I had stuck with the game and translated all of the blocks I found, I would have to go back to the beginning of the game and re-read everything I had found previous to understand what was going on. Feeling cheated, and having managed to glitch the game (I broke the elevator I think and couldn’t find my way out of the nightmare), I decided to close the game and possibly revisit it later.
If you have the patience to back track, then this is the game for you. I just couldn’t do it myself. The visuals are stunning, and from what I could figure out purely by noticing details and seeing pictures, the game seems to have a very interesting story. I won’t reveal any details but it looks like a pretty heartbreaking tale. Coupled with the amazing soundtrack, you are sure to feel a little tingly when playing.
However, if you aren’t a patient person like myself, pick up a different puzzle game. You will most likely get to the decoding section, turn on a playthrough, and get just as frustrated as I did. Pick it up when it goes on sale and try it out if you have a free few hours.