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Video Game / HOME (2013)

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You may be looking for the 2012 Survival Horror indie game Home, by Benjamin Rivers.
"Everyone in this damned place has lost their minds..."
The Judge

Welcome HOME, dear puppeteer.

This world has been waiting some time for your arrival. The tables of balance has been turned, and the fate of the world trusted into a familiar face. The guardian of zone 0 himself, The Judge. Your job is to lead him on a new journey, masterful puppeteer.

This world is wrapped in an enigma, a shroud of confusion overlapped the once peaceful zones. The true guardian of zone 0 himself has the very marrow of his bones rattled with the feelings of Deja Vu. The day that he would become the marionette of the new world is coming, and upon your very arrival the world will undergo otherworldly changes.

Just what is going on in this world? Why has the switch been reset? Has The Judge forgotten everything that happened? Has the world been reversed to a state of pristine ignorance? Only you can find out, fateful puppeteer.

You will travel the world and become one with your puppet, and in your combined state you will bring the land to the closure it deserves. The fate, and the direction of that closure however, is up to the decisions you make. Choose wisely my friend, it's up to you to save their HOME.

HOME is a fangame based on, and set in, the world of Mortis Ghost's OFF. It was developed by Felix and the rest of Team HOME over the course of a year or so. It can be downloaded here.

Tropes appearing in Home include:

  • Actually Four Mooks: Mostly happens with the Burnt Elsen and the Militant Elsen, who tend to spontaneously gain allies upon entering battle. Also occasionally inverted: sometimes in scripted battles there will be more enemies in the cut-scene than you actually fight in battle.
  • Addressing the Player: See Leaning on the Fourth Wall. At one point done very blatantly by someone other than Zacharie when The Judge asks you to hit the directional keys to check that you're still there after what goes down in Zone 4
  • After the End: HOME takes place after the events of OFF were reset.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Early on, you fight two rounds of cat ghosts harassing Alain before fighting Alain himself. This would be a nearly impossible series of fights at such an early level if your health did not return to full inbetween them.
  • Armor of Invincibility: The Sugary Collar, which is equipment exclusive to Jozlyn that gives her permanent Restore status, received after beating Sugar.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: One scene in the game lets you take control of Edna, as you glance over her backstory.
  • Background Music Override: All timed events that aren't mini-games have this. Also every battle in the Waltz of the Bloody Moon and the Purified Zones.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In Zone 2, when the spectures invade the residence area, reaching the Batter will initiate a fight with the two respective parties sandwiching the spectures.
  • BFG:
    • The Military General and the Militant Elsen turned their arms into them, with the former having one on his leg as well.
    • The Shadows have them on their abdomens.
  • Big Bad: The Batter reprises his role as this. Given that he's purified the world in a previous timeline, he intends to do it again, and it is up to The Judge to stop him.
  • Blood Lust: The Butcher in Zone 1, who goes at length about just how much he'll enjoy cracking your bones and slicing your flesh with his knives.
  • Book Ends: The last scene of the good end is with The Judge peacefully sleeping in Zone 0, just like the beginning.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Just like in OFF, the Judge addresses you frequently as you play the game.
  • Brick Joke: When you first meet Jozlyn, she asks if you have a gift for her. Much, much later in the Purified Zones, after you beat Sugar...
    Jozlyn: See Pablo? At least this lady knows how to give out gifts.
  • Call-Back: While not always audible in the music itself, the names of many of the game's tracks are callbacks to those of the original OFF. For example, from Fake Orchestra, you get Synthetic Symphony; from Minuit A Fond la Caisse (Midnight Velocity/Midnight At Full Speed) you get Aube a Tout Allure, meaning Dawn Velocity or Dawn At Full Speed which also serves to reference the order of the game's events in reference to OFF. From Desperately Safe, you get Serenade to Safety (with a serenade being a calming song, to contrast a state of desperation).
  • The Cameo:
    • Dopefish make a return in this game. Not only are there more than one Dopefish (one is found in each zone), finding them is required to access the bonus bosses.
    • Three of the bonus bosses found in Zone 0 are cameos. We have Blight from ONE, an OFF fangame Felix has worked on, Ava from Iter Itineris, a Yume Nikki fangame, and Ruby from Ruby Quest: Undertow.
    • Also from ONE is Viola, a secret merchant found throughout the zones.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Just like in OFF, starts as a wacky RPG starring cats, but then goes into the surreal horror territory during Zone 3, though most players would expect that. This is played much more straight in Zone 4.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The small shard of chocolate received from beating Jozlyn.
  • Chest Monster: Many variations of them actually, but they are found by simply trying to open impure chests.
  • Convenient Questing: The Library in zone 2 just so happens to open after you talk to Zacharie. Very convenient.
  • The Corruption: The "knowledge" spread by the Military General.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Zone 3, just like in the original.
  • Crapsack World: Zone 4. The Elsen jumping to his death when you enter is only a hint towards what's in store for you there.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The Judge becomes very close with Alain and Jozlyn after defeating them.
    • The Guardians become much friendlier after you beat them. Dedan and Enoch especially.
  • Developer's Foresight: In Zone 1, there is an Elsen right across the rails that you can never get to. Normally. If you find a way to glitch the game and cross over to the other side, he has something to say. What do you mean, "Help, [Player name] has discovered a bug!"?
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The Zone 4 Library is this, being a long level filled with difficult battles, obstacles, and puzzles (some of which are harder versions of the puzzles found in Zone 0), and being the last area before you enter the Purified Zones.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Elsens in Zone 4. Some contemplate on whether or not to overdose themselves with pills, while others jump off buildings as you pass by.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In early and mid-way versions of the game, there was a choice system after each of the first three bosses that would alter how the story progressed and which ending you got. HOME is a longer game than OFF, though, and more linearity was required to support its longer plot, so this system was eventually done away with. After all, nobody would ever have to go through the pure zones or get a bad ending if you did the sensible thing each time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The HOME ending is this to the cats, but especially to the puppeteer.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: The game can be this at lower combat difficulty settings, because bosses are less affected by said setting than regular enemies.
  • Endless Corridor: The endless staircase in Zone 4's library, until certain requirements are met.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: The Shadows are set up to be very tough enemies. However, while they can inflict annoying status conditions, they're otherwise relatively easy enemies.
  • Fan Sequel: To OFF.
  • Fission Mailed: In the beginning of chapter 3 in the bedroom, there is a slip of paper. Examining the paper gives the message "Game Over." followed by a bunch of ghosts appearing, afterwards then brings open a fake game over screen followed by a fake title screen, and the only way to continue is to press "New Game".
  • Flying Books: An obstacle in the Zone 4 Library, of the "do damage if struck by them" variety.
  • Flunky Boss: The Military General will summon Militant Burnts all throughout the battle as you kill them.
  • Foreshadowing: In multiple places.
    • The first cutscene upon starting the game says "In the End...", followed by pictures of the Judge in purified zones, at the end of OFF. It then says "In the Beginning..." and the game starts. The events occurred in that order, as the world was reset After the End. Further alluding to this is a book in the Zone 2 library called "Old Index". It is a faded version of the index The Batter found in OFF.
    • After the combat tutorial, the Judge berates the Batter for having stood around and done nothing when the phantoms attacked. This is because the Batter has no Puppeteer. There is no one to command and lead him through the zones. This is further hinted at various places such as the roof of the post office and in zone 2 when the Batter has no idea where to go.
  • Four Is Death: Zone 4 is... much more death-filled than the other zones.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Judge (melancholic), Alain (choleric), Valerie (phlegmatic), and Jozlyn (sanguine).
  • Golden Ending: If you play your cards right, you can stop the Batter and kill him at the end of the game just before he tries to purify Hugo, ensuring he can never threaten the world ever again, thus allowing Hugo to revive everyone who died and allowing things to go right this time.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: The Batter temporarily joins your party in zone 2 on your way to the library rooftops.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The way to get the Golden Ending is both very counter-intuitive and never hinted at in the game. Whether you get the good or bad ending depends on an interaction with a nondescript Elsen during The Courtroom's glitchy part who asks the vague question of whether or not you consider yourself guilty. Answering yes will give you the good ending where Hugo survives and recreates the world, while answering no will give you the bad ending where Hugo dies. There is nothing hinting at the facts that this decision has any meaningful impact or that "yes" is the preferable answer. Even after receiving the bad ending, there is nothing hinting at the way to earn the good one. What's worse is that, considering the seeming mundanity of this encounter, players are likely to save over their file after it, rendering the good ending Permanently Missable Content.
    • The real-world chest can be annoying if you don't have any idea what to do and it doesn't read. This bug only exists if you try and export the image alone. There's a text file below the chest that directly tells the player to export the chest to a separate folder then open it to view the image.
    • And who could forget accessing the Bonus Bosses? You have to try to open a locked door in a house well off the beaten pathnote  multiple times until it opens, press a switch in the room it leads you to, and you have to find all of the Dopefish hidden throughout the zones to actually fight them.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Towards the end, you will suddenly receive several ominous error messages. It's very obvious that something inside of the game wants you to give up.
  • Haunted Technology: The computer in the basement of Zone 4's library certainly qualifies. Unique example in that someone seemingly meant to have it that way; the spirit responsible seems to identify itself as some sort of defensive program, who deletes anything organic nearby. Later on, you learn that the computer is the spirit of the librarian who once ran the place, attempting to protect the apparent guardian at the top of the zone, even in death.
  • Healer Signs On Early: The Judge himself learns healing moves very early in the game.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Alain seems willing to eat any living thing to sate his hunger, which unfortunately included his family.
  • Impossible Item Drop: Ghosts drop claws and fangs they never had.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The Elsen in Zone 4 all have it.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Just about any chest in the game fits this.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Blight's Sword, unlocked by beating the Secret boss of the same name, gives the same stat bonus as the Deus Ex Machina listed below plus 25 defense and 5 agility as well as guaranteeing First Strike. It also has a 25% chance to inflict poison.
    • While not a Sword per se, the Pocket Watch, unlocked by beating another bonus boss, Father Time, grants 3 points on attack and spirit, 15 on defense and agility, and grants immunity against Slow, Stop, Doom, and critical hits.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: There are two.
    • The Deus Ex Machina, which requires you to find the Dopefish in all five Zones before they're purified, and then defeat Felix in Purified Zone 0. It's analogous to the Ashley Bat in OFF, allowing the wielder to attack twice per turn. Though the 200 bonus on Spirit and Attack aren't bad, either...
    • Zacharie's Sword, which requires you to defeat Zacharie to obtain it.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Small blocks that will usually disappear once you've performed a specific action or solved a puzzle. Humorously, at one point in Zone 2, The Judge recruits The Batter to toss him over one of these in order to proceed.
  • Jump Scare: The Elsen that hangs himself in Zone 4. It even catches the Judge off-guard. Gets worse if you have Hard Combat mode on. Once you leave the room, his ghost comes out after you and chases you around the room at tremendously fast speeds to the point it's impossible to avoid a combat with it. Its battle sprite is even worse: A black spectre with a deranged smile, blank white eyes and a rope around its neck. Guaranteed to scare anyone who hasn't played in Hard Mode before.
    • Just when you think you've escaped the laughing ghouls in Chapter 1 of The Courtroom, one comes flying at you down the middle of the hallway. At least the jump scare is his only purpose, rather than that of the other ghouls...
    • To an extent, when The Courtroom glitches out during Chapter 2.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Even more so than in the original game. Zacharie will address your presence very often and will occasionally discuss game aspects that apply to him. You are also a frequent topic of your feline party members' discussions.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Part 2 of the Courtroom.
  • Mobile Maze: The basement of the mall in Zone 2, which is a different maze every time you enter until you make it to the end.
  • Multiple Endings: 3 possible, actually.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Edna reveals to the Judge that his actions simply made it easier for the Batter to complete his mission. She does offer a means to fix it, only to be Killed Mid-Sentence.
  • No Sense of Direction: You can find the Batter wandering around lost in a couple of Zones, and sometimes you have to point him towards his next objective.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Fail to force Japhet out of Valerie's body in time. Go ahead, try it.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We don't get to see what that Shadow does to that group of Militant Elsen or your party members in battle. But we do get to hear it.
  • NPC Roadblock: Zone 2's Park has an impassable line of Park-goers before the mall is completed.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss is the Batter, who goes from The Executioner to Bad Executioner. It's even more intimidating than Bad Batter.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: Every bookshelf has this.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Once you finish a zone, you can not re-enter said zone. Any items and secrets you missed can not be obtained anymore. Thankfully, after the events in Zone 4, you can re-access the zones after they're purified, meaning you can grind and pick up any items and secrets you missed.
    • The room holding the Zodiac Orbs in Zone 3 becomes inaccessible if you're struck by Spectres in the Monorail Mini-game beforehand. Since it's a one time deal event, you can't go back and re-do it, leaving the entrance blocked and out of your reach.
    • If you fail to ride the roller coaster in Zone 2 before Valerie joins your team, it will be closed off the next time you visit. This is problematic, because you need a picture of yourself on the roller coaster to convince the Elsen guarding the Boss's office in the amusement park to let you through. This office is full of Zodiac orbs.
  • Plague Doctor: The main enemies of the Purified Zones. They come in many varieties.
  • Point of No Return: A message will be displayed before every major boss battle asking if you want to continue. This applies doubly to the top of Zone 4's Library, the aftermath of which leads to the Purified Zones.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Militant Elsen in Zone 4 only attack when they've been ordered to specifically, and there are plenty without orders you can talk to peacefully.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Your feline party certainly qualifies. You've got a Guardian, a stray cannibal, the Guardian's librarian brother, and a Cloud Cuckoo Lander dancer all on the same team.
  • Reset Button: The first cutscene upon starting the game says "In the End...", followed by pictures of the Judge in purified zones, at the end of OFF. It then says "In the Beginning..." and the game starts. The events occurred in that order, as the world was reset After the End.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: An Elsen in Zone 3, who promptly decides to go back to sleep after you talk to him.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Jozlyn is the only female party member.
  • The Snark Knight: The Judge and Alain are both very sarcastic.
    The Judge: (upon examining a window) Yes, that is a window...
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The Judge and Alain occasionally.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Valerie can be saved and recruited as a party member.
    • Hugo and Sugar survive, depending on your actions.
  • Spooky Silent Library: Zone 4 has one.
  • Sweet Tooth: Alain. He ends up eating an entire room full of sugar.
  • The Stoic: The Batter, as in the original.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Elsen: [on the way to Alma] Such a lovely ride. I really hope nothing goes wrong. That would be awful.
    Conductor: Attention passengers: it appears monsters have boarded the train.
  • Title Drop: Dropped by Hugo at the end of the game: "This land is perfectly fine, this is the land I call home. Ive done all I can to protect it".
  • Unperson: The characters Charlotte/The Observer and Bandit were phased out of later versions of the game due to a falling out between the two creators, and their roles were replaced by The Witness and Viola.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: After defeating Elona, the Judge has the option to forgive her, and reassure her that Hugo will forgive her.
  • Walking Wasteland: The Shadows in Zone 4.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In the Good Ending's credits to show where everyone is, and that your feline party members have taken up residence with The Guardians of the Zones and are helping them to be better leaders.
  • Womb Level: In The Judge's Chapter of the Courtroom.

Alternative Title(s): A New Home