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(4 edits) (+3)(-3)

House is a creepy game that leans into the RPG Maker horror aesthetic from games like Misao thrown in with a dash of old school cult hits like Maniac Mansion. Instead of a haunted school or mansion, you are exploring your home that gets darker and more monstrously aggressive as the day quickly turns on. And, oh, does the day move on, which each in-game second translating to rapidly increasing minutes inside the house.

The best parts about this game are the pixel art and the designs and the discoverability. As you begin to discover items and play around with them, you organically begin to find solutions to your problems. This type of logical reward for the player is one of House's strengths. The ghosts, monsters, demons, etc. are also well-drawn, creepy, and charming. The first time midnight approached, I seriously was filled with a deep dread as the father came home.

This is where my raving praise begins to slip though. I don't know of House fully uses the 'time loop' of being trapped in this Groundhog's Day-like setting to its fullest potential. To be honest, although I knew what I needed to do for certain tasks, some of the enemies can quickly end your run in what ends up being an ultimately frustrating experience. The first time you laugh about it and feel trolled. The second time you begin to wonder about hitboxes. I've had weird issue with the rat hit box, annoyed with how it feels like you have to get pixel-perfect to escape the rug in the hallway, and not to mention bad RNG with the shadow people. After 15-20 runs, it feels like certain obstacles should no longer be a run-ending issue.... yet they are. The tedium of repeating runs for dumb missed-by-a-pixel mistakes pushes up against the genuine joy of the game's surprises.

I also think I would like House more if I didn't feel like it was so "front-loaded" in terms of trying to rush to save my family members. Certain tasks feel like they have to be 'pixel perfect' or that I have to be conducting a speed run, which ruins some of the atmosphere for me. There are moments like uncovering the hatch in the mother's room that I wish felt a little slower and carried a deeper emotional gravitas. Even some lighter content feels rushed. An example: after befriending the rat I learned I could talk to him (and that he had dialogue for different items I was carrying), but I also had tasks to do & every spent with lore (which I would have liked!) meant another disaster was happening elsewhere in the house. So, I ran off.

The runs aren't that long, but even a quicksave option might make this game a little more enjoyable. At a certain point the tedium of having everything start over knowing the spike rug might get me again turned me off of House. Finally, I just ended up getting too frustrated that I couldn't accomplish what I set my mind to do and quit, instead watching a YT video of someone else's best runs.

The story, artwork, item/object interactions, and discoverability are worth the sticker price for an interesting, imaginative game, I only wish it was more fun to play and didn't feel like each run was a pixel-perfect speed run racing against the clock.