James Monger Computers, cars, cynicism

Home is Where One Starts... Review

Home is Where One Starts… is a beautiful exploration through the childhood memories of a young girl living in a broken home.

It’s an emotional walking simulator similar to Dear Esther. There are no explicit puzzles and no action; you simply walk around the girl’s home, exploring her childhood memories as she narrates to you.

You start by the road, waiting for the school bus, with the wind blowing and the birds chirping overhead. The dawn sun pokes its head up above the distant treeline and there’s a healthy serving of lens flare if you look towards it.

From the bus stop, you can go wherever you want. The playable area takes around 4 minutes to walk from one side to the other. You’re teased by big mansions in the distance which you can’t reach because of invisible walls, but when you learn the limits of the game area you soon forgive them.

The leaves crunch gently underfoot as you explore the serene forest area around the girl’s house. There are a few buildings, a pond and a cemetary, spread between a cornfield and a forest. The trees are giants, reaching up into the sky, and the sun casts its rays through them beautifully.

As you explore, you’re accompanied by a narrator, giving insights and tales from her childhood. There are around 20 trinkets in total which often prompt the narrator into revealing more.

There’s an underlying story involving the narrator’s father, but the story feels underdeveloped and vague. The play time is under an hour but it’s a rewarding and relaxing journey throughout.

There are missing details throughout. At first I could dismiss this as being due too boring for a child narrator to remember (for example, the lack of writing on the back of a book), but when the full ingredients of a packet of dog biscuits are listed on the box, that theory falls apart somewhat.

Overall it was a very relaxing journey. Husband-and-wife duo David and Elise Wehle take us through an immersive and emotional story, with very calming music provided by the tumbled sea.

For less than three dollars on Steam, this is too good a game to turn down.

Specifications

  • Developer: David Wehle
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, SteamOS