I’m a big fan of games that take a seemingly ordinary task and give it an unusual and unnerving undertone, and believe me, Home Safety Hotline makes the everyday job of working at a call centre feel VERY sinister.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Home Safety Hotline puts players in the role of a new worker at the titular company, with your job being to take calls from homeowners, identify the issues that they’re describing, and then give them a solution to the hazards and pests that are bothering them by checking through the options available to you. Easy, right? Well, whilst things start off relatively normally with players having to identify the likes of bed bugs, cockroaches, or black mould, you soon start to encounter more unusual disturbances that take a more monstrous form. Add to that the mysterious e-mails you receive telling you to leave your job, the peculiar prank calls that take an ominous turn, and the fact that your manager becomes more and more unusual as you complete each day of work, and you’ll soon find that this isn’t your typical nine-to-five role.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the narrative because it’s best to discover it yourself, but I found myself fully engrossed until the very end. Between the calls growing more and more disturbing as you progress, the analog horror-themed video files that help flesh out the world, and that unnerving vibe within your role, it’s hard not to find yourself captivated by that constant feeling that something simply isn’t right in the world. Admittedly, the ending didn’t quite build up into the payoff that I was hoping for, but the utterly bizarre turn it took still made the journey feel worthwhile. The excellent voice acting adds to the experience, whilst the overall presentation feels perfectly reminiscent of what you’d expect from an old-school call centre.
“There’s a puzzle-like element to the experience when trying to find the important nuggets of information in a call and matching them up to one of the potential causes, and with a lot of the entries sharing some similarities, you’ll have to really be on the ball if you want a perfect success rating.”
When it comes to the gameplay, players are given a 90s-style PC to work from, with the Home Safety Hotline application offering them an ever-growing database of potential issues customers are facing. Each entry gives an image of the issue, a description of it, the dangers it could pose, and the best solution to take – some entries also include a sound file, which you can use to identify an issue when the caller describes the noises they are hearing. When a call comes through, you’ll hear the caller describe their issue to you as best as they can, with players then tasked with picking out the important details in what they’re describing and using that information to match it up with one of the entries in the database. If you get it right? It’ll add to your success percentage that’s displayed at the end of each day. And if you get it wrong? You’ll receive a disgruntled follow-up call that’ll often bring with it a disturbing undertone depending on the REAL issue that the caller was facing.
On paper, it might not sound that exciting, but there’s something about Home Safety Hotline’s gameplay loop that kept me completely hooked in. There’s a puzzle-like element to the experience when trying to find the important nuggets of information in a call and matching them up to one of the potential causes, and with a lot of the entries sharing some similarities, you’ll have to really be on the ball if you want a perfect success rating. If you do get too many wrong, you’ll end up finding yourself unemployed and having to start the day over – a day only takes around fifteen minutes to get through so you won’t lose too much progress, whilst the fact that you’ll face the same calls means you’ll get a second chance at success. The video that plays when you do get fired, though? It’s… weird.
Check out some screenshots down below:
You’re probably going to find a LOT of Home Safety Hotline weird, but that’s what makes it so good to play. The entries are wonderfully designed and lean into urban legends, folklore, and fairy tales in some cleverly modernised ways, whilst the artwork that accompanies them gets that perfect balance of realism and weirdness to make them feel like genuine threats to your household. Some are actually quite cute – I wouldn’t mind a Common Hobb cleaning up my home… well… as long as it didn’t turn into a Boggart (that’ll make a LOT more sense if you play the game). On the other hand, some of the entries can be disturbing, especially the Dorcha and the False Rose Bush (which is made even scarier thanks to one of the game’s video files). It doesn’t always go all-out with its horror, but when it does? It’s really effective.
It all comes together to make for a memorable experience that really does feel unique. There’s a satisfying loop to completing each call and finding yourself memorising the causes to some of the issues that callers could be facing, whilst the game’s conclusion will REALLY test your memory skills with its riddle-like approach to questioning. Then you’ve got things like the network errors that hide the database and force you to work off your own knowledge, which changes things up to keep the experience challenging. And hey, you’ll even get some cool rewards for doing a good job, including discount vouchers for the likes of a used horseshoe, hag hide, or glamour stone… we all want those, right? It’ll only take around two or three hours to beat, but it’s the perfect length to not only captivate players with its dark storytelling, but to also not run out of steam.
Home Safety Hotline Review
Home Safety Hotline is a creative and clever analog horror experience that’ll keep players entertained (and spooked) with its call centre-themed puzzling. The gameplay loop is addictive and engaging thanks to the creatively disturbing enigmas that callers send your way, whilst the old-school presentation will certainly vibe with those who’ve been using PCs since the 90s.
The best part of all? It just feels so unique to play. Whilst it does share some similarities with the likes of Papers, Please or Security Booth, there’s just something about Home Safety Hotline that makes it feel unlike anything else I’ve played before. The fact that it also just so happens to be a lot of fun is the cherry on top.
Developer: Night Signal Entertainment
Publisher: Night Signal Entertainment
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)