At Home Alone : A Jarring Experience

Not too scary, but plenty creepy

Who doesn’t enjoy a good fright every once in a while? Games like Amnesia and RE7 are infamous for scaring the living hell out of unsuspecting gamers. That’s the thing about horror games though, you’ve set yourself up to be scared. So what’s the difference between those titles and At Home Alone? It doesn’t warn you of the creepy experience ahead.

Now don’t get me wrong, At Home Alone is tagged for Horror on Steam. I went in fully expecting something to go wrong. The issue was, it really did seem innocent enough in the beginning.

You play as a little girl who has been left at home by her mother. The graphics give off an alarming amount of Undertale vibes, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The map we’re given to explore isn’t very big but has a nice little charm to it. Of what I found, there are seven areas we play in. I won’t go into much detail on the final spots, as it has major spoilers attached to it.

Spoilers are something that really would ruin the game for you. At Home Alone is not a long game in any way, shape or form. It comes in at a measly thirty-eight minutes, which would usually be a huge issue for me. There’s only one reason why I can’t fault it too much. The strange little story it has is short, sweet, and an M. Night Shyamalan nightmare.

Without ruining the ending, I will share that you will have to finish the game three times. While it does sound like an inflated amount of endings, as I’ve stated the game is really short. Each time you finish the game, the next step becomes increasingly more clear. There was only one time I really felt stuck.

At a certain point after meeting the red-haired boy, a blonde girl will ring on the doorbell. The game will inform you to tell her to leave. The issue I had was that the dialogue appeared so quick, I had no clue what to do. If you miss the correct option, the game will force you to play through its entirety until you can reset. While it doesn’t take long to complete a route you’ve already done, it still frustrated me to no end.

On the subject of resetting, the only save/load function in the game is kind of messy. The crow sitting in the living room appears to be the only way you can save your game. Why you would want to save your game I’m unsure of, but if you’re going to give players the option, you have to make it more obvious. I have an issue with said crow due to the choices it gives you.

To save, you must click File Caw. To load, you select Reading File Caw. At a glance, you would be unable to tell what these functions did. A cute selection for sure, but to have such an important part of most games be so confusing to select is strange to me. These issues really don’t bug me as much as the major flaw At Home Alone possesses.

Here’s the thing about the game. There aren’t many issues besides saving and general puzzle confusion. The real issue comes with the translation. The game is clearly written in a different language, so it had to be translated for English-speaking audiences. The problem is that the translation is in incredibly broken English. The farther you progress, the more each line becomes increasingly more broken. At times it’s hilarious, others it makes the experience very strange. Such as the crows strange save dialogue, or the character herself.

All of these flaws are corrected by the eerie atmosphere. I was lulled into a sense of security by the gentle ambiance the main theme presents. Once the nice music leaves, the atmosphere instantly becomes tense. There were many moments where I was caught off guard by the sudden silence.

In this scene, a very loud bang comes from somewhere upstairs. This was in the middle of moving around the map, so it was a pretty good “jumpscare” (if you count noises as one). Don’t get me wrong, the game itself isn’t scary at all. At most, it’s tense and creepy. I felt more than uncomfortable learning about the little protagonist. After each ending, the game gives you more and more until it suddenly sweeps the rug from under your feet.

You definitely will not understand the final ending. It is left up for interpretation, which is one of my favorite kinds of endings. What excites me is that the final still of the game foreshadows the next “possible” game in this timeline. If and when that day comes, you will see another review pop up.

Until then, give At Home Alone a quick shot. It’s free! You’ll find the game here on steam. It’ll be completed within an hour, but I’m sure it will stick with you as it has with me. To stay up to date with more of my reviews, follow me on Twitter  Once you’re finished with the game, why not read another article? Zac put up a nice Blizzcon roundup that is just begging to be seen here.

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At Home Alone

5.5

Score

5.5/10

Pros

  • Quick Story
  • Good Atmosphere
  • Dialogue can be hilarious
  • Unique
  • Uses silence well

Cons

  • Saving is a mess
  • Sound effects ruin tension
  • Broken English
  • No Replayability
  • Missable choices
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Gary Smith

My name is Gary, and I love video games. I've been writing and gaming since I got my gameboy color as a boy. Ever since, I haven't been able to live without it. I'm an established playwright turned journalist, and I hope to entertain many for years to come!

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