Remember the movie Happy Death Day, where a masked killer repeatedly murders the protagonist as she re-lives the same day over and over in an effort to prevent her demise? Well, Homebody takes that formula and puts it in a video game form, with the old-school horror-puzzler putting players in a satisfying time loop as they look to survive a vicious killer. It’s good fun too, even IF some of its old-school tropes hold it back a little.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Homebody puts players in the role of Emily, who looks to spend some time with her friends in a cabin in the middle of the woods. Perfect setup for a horror experience, right? Well, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, with a lot of tension between Emily and her friends thanks to the fact that they’ve spent a long time apart, with the theme of friendship and isolation explored throughout the game. It’s surprisingly deep, with the game doing a good job of conveying Emily’s mixed emotions and how she slowly learns to embrace them.
Of course, Homebody is a horror game, so there’s OBVIOUSLY a nasty killer on the loose too. And, of course, it’s killing everyone – Emily included. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean the end, with the game then restarting its time loop to the beginning of the evening, with only Emily aware of what’s going on and no one listening when she tries to explain the situation to everyone else. It’s up to Emily to protect her friends and unravel the mystery behind what the heck is going on. It does a good job of tying into Emily’s own personal struggles, and whilst I’ll admit that the cast weren’t the most likable bunch, I found myself invested in their survival.
When it comes to the gameplay, Homebody takes a very old-school approach with its survival horror antics. Fixed camera angles? Check. Eerie visuals with a PSOne-style aesthetic? Check. Plenty of cryptic puzzles to keep you on your toes? Double-check. It carries all of the hallmarks of the survival horror titles of yesteryear, and whilst it doesn’t feature any combat situation where you have to fight off the foreboding threat, it’ll certainly spark a few memories for those familiar with the genre.
“Of course, you’ll still suffer plenty of deaths along the way, but the trial-and-error aspect of the game feels rewarding and brings with it enough progression to ensure players won’t tire of the formula.”
What makes the experience the most enjoyable is the time loop gameplay. Like titles such as Deathloop or Twelve Minutes, it’s satisfying to learn that little bit more on each run to know your next attempt will be more successful, with players able to figure out where to go next, how to approach each puzzle, and, most importantly, how to evade the stalking killer. Of course, you’ll still suffer plenty of deaths along the way, but the trial-and-error aspect of the game feels rewarding and brings with it enough progression to ensure players won’t tire of the formula.
Changes come into play as you progress too, with the story developing and the killer arriving on the scene earlier than before. What, you thought knowing the solutions to puzzles would make the game easy? Homebody nullifies that by constantly upping the stakes and having the killer’s arrival become more unpredictable. It means there’s a sense of tension felt no matter how many times you might have died already, but in a balanced way that ensures the game remains satisfying to play.
It is clear that Homebody gets a lot right, whilst the variety of the puzzles are entertaining and show that the game has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some problems. For one, the controls could feel really clumsy at times, especially when paired with the fixed camera angles. Whilst they work from a cinematic viewpoint and certainly add to the tension, they could make for some awkward moments where I’d accidentally switch between areas or interact with the wrong objects. It’s not a HUGE problem, but it can be frustrating when you’re trying to escape the killer at the same time. There were a couple of puzzles that could be a little bit annoying to solve too, whilst the time loop gameplay does mean that you’ll have to replay a lot of the same bits over and over again as you progress, which won’t be for everyone.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Thankfully, none of these problems stopped me from having a good time playing through the game, with Homebody certainly scratching that horror itch in a clever way. I was a big fan of the visuals too, with the PSOne-style presentation (albeit with more detail than that era) fitting the old-school tone of the game perfectly. Add to that some solid sound design that strengthens the eerie atmosphere and you’ll quickly find that Homebody nails the unsettling horror vibe.
Homebody certainly kept me on the edge of my seat with its horror-themed time loop puzzling, even IF some aspects of it don’t always deliver. The creative puzzles ensure players will be kept scratching their head when playing, whilst the eerie atmosphere keeps the tension high as the malicious killer stalks each room of the cabin looking for blood.
It does have a few issues, with the camera and controls the main offender, but they don’t stop Homebody from being a lot of fun to play. It does something a little different in the horror genre, both thematically and from a gameplay perspective, whilst the old-school vibe will tick plenty of the right boxes for players.
Developer: Game Grumps
Publisher: Rogue Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch