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Homesick Review

Homesick Review

A wonderfully atmospheric environment is marred by a weak storyline and a few unreasonably difficult puzzles.


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Developed by

Published by


Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure 
Release date: May 28, 2015

Have you ever woken up from an intense dream or nightmare, gone about your day, and then woken up again? It can be a little disconcerting to realize that you were still dreaming when you thought you were awake. Homesick is very much like this.

The game begins with you waking in a decayed and abandoned building. There’s no clue as to where you are, but the building has a very institutional feel – walls and floors are concrete, electrical conduits are exposed and there’s little in the way of decor. Yet you’re not in an institution; these are apartments with cupboards and bookcases with many decaying books. Yet there are no appliances in the kitchen area, or even room to install them. My first thought was that this might be an abandoned tenement in Moscow.

So you do the obvious (only) thing, start exploring and quickly discover several things:

1) Direct sunlight blinds and paralyzes you, so you must stay out of the direct sun which makes some areas off limits.

2) There are letters, notes and books everywhere which you can read. Unfortunately, everything is in code. I would have been tempted to try cracking the code from the beginning, but rather than having an easily decipherable system such as a letter substitution system in which each letter is replaced with a symbol, I couldn’t even tell when a space was between letters or words.

3) You can perform such simple tasks as unlocking a door, but not strenuous ones, such as kicking in a locked door.

There is, however, something specific which you must do, and once accomplished, you become sleepy and must lay back down to sleep. That’s when you enter the nightmare, and in the nightmare several things become immediately obvious.

1) You can’t stand still. A dark and nasty-looking substance oozes up from the floor and drips up to the ceiling. It knows where you are and if you stand still for more than a couple of seconds it will cover you and force you awake with the mission unaccomplished.

2) It’s night and you can now go to areas that the Sun had previously blocked.

3) You’re carrying an axe which can be used against locked doors.

The building is very atmospheric from a visual perspective, and the sound did a wonderful job adding to the overall immersion. As day and night each had their own goals and rules, the sounds reflected the dichotomy. During the day there’s a simple piano riff – a chord followed by a couple bars of simple melody. Nothing catchy, but slow and peaceful, and it was different for each level. Objects made appropriate sounds when handled, sounds which almost jarred with the silence of your isolation. By contrast the night is a study in anxiety. A single minor chord plays nonstop – the same chord used to signal impending danger. On top of this you can hear people’s voices. You can’t hear what’s being said, but they sound worried, if not frightened. The overall impact had me in a state where i couldn’t get the job done soon enough in order to wake up. Homesick had me completely drawn in, and I truly wanted to know what had happened to get me here and what was going on. This is very good in a game.

As for puzzles, these are scattered throughout the building and must be solved during the day. They’re good puzzles that are well integrated into the game. There was only one leeetle problem – there were almost no clues for the solution to any of them. There is one puzzle in particular that contains ten valves, and you have to turn only certain ones to solve the puzzle. I couldn’t find any clue as to which of the ten to use. In the end I had to use a walkthrough to find the solution, and even then I had no clue as to why those certain valves were the right ones. Being required to use a walkthrough is very bad in a game.

Then there’s the storyline, or rather the lack of one. In the beginning you explore with no idea of the when, where, what or how. Just over halfway through you unlock the code and can read all the notes, letters and books scattered about. While they present some interesting issues, none really explains what’s going on or why you’re here.

Finally the game ends, and it’s a happy ending. Or at least it appears to be happy. But why should it be happy? You basically leave the game knowing no more than when you started. Ambiguity can be good when it leaves you with something to think about; all the little “what if’s” to ponder. But ambiguity is bad when it just leaves you in a vacuum.

Final Thoughts

Despite the issues I had, the bottom line is whether or not the game was fun to play. And it was.

I found myself wrapped within the very atmospheric Homesick world, and I truly wanted to advance through the building to find out what was going on. When I finally reached the end I was disappointed – I wanted it to continue. But this has to be balanced against the puzzles with no clues and a story that isn’t.

My recommendation is that you get this game and play it. You’ll enjoy the process and you might even find the clues or hidden meanings I missed.

Grade: B-
 Atmospheric environment
+Well-integrated, original puzzles
– Weak storyline
– Some puzzles are unreasonably difficult

System Requirements
OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher
Processor: Dual Core 2.0 GHz 
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: Video card with 512 MB RAM
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
Additional Notes: Keyboard required for one puzzle mechanic

Bob Washburne

Bob Washburne

I have been playing adventure games since 1979 when I played "Adventure" on the DEC PDP minicomputer at work. The first adventure game I ever purchased was "Zork 1" for CP/M. I can remember the introduction of the IBM PC. I remember the invention of the microcomputer (actually, it was discovered rather than invented). I remember the invention of the minicomputer. Yes, I am an old fart. I have written 80 reviews and articles for JustAdventure starting with my review of "Bioscopia" in February of 2004. I currently own more adventure games than I will ever be able to play, let alone review. And I want more!

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