Home is Where One Starts... is a short, first-person exploration game in the same vein as Dear Esther or Gone Home. It’s a story about childhood, hope, and the miracle of memory. You play as a little girl from a broken home somewhere in the American South.
User reviews:
Overall:
Mostly Positive (254 reviews) - 77% of the 254 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: May 12, 2015

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March 28

Celebration + New Game Announcement

I’m happy to announce that Home is Where One Starts... was nominated for the Emotional Game Awards alongside indie juggernauts like Life is Strange and Ori and the Blind Forest. It didn’t win, but just being nominated was an honor. To celebrate, my game is 80% off for a week. Thanks again for all the support and the sales! These profits will help me fund my next project, which leads me to this...

I’m working on a new story-driven game: The First Tree. You can learn more and sign up for a one-time release email on the game’s website, www.thefirsttree.com. In this game, you play as a fox looking for her missing family while learning about a young couple dealing with a death in theirs. If you’re fan of HiWOS and other games like Journey, Firewatch, or Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons, I think you’ll like this one. Follow me on Twitter for more updates. Thanks again!

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Reviews

“Home is Where One Starts... is a gem of an indie that deserves a place among the heavy-hitters.”
Only SP

“It's subtle, poignant and rich. Wonderful work.”
Jessica Conditt, Engadget

“It encourages reflective thought and imagination, which really is what such stories as this are about.”
Arcadian Rhythms

About This Game

“I remember when I was a little girl, waiting at the end of my driveway. I had already missed the school bus, but I stood there anyway… envying the birds.”

Home is Where One Starts... is a short, first-person exploration game in the same vein as Dear Esther or Gone Home. It’s an experience where every object has been carefully placed to tell a poignant story—a story about childhood, hope, and the miracle of memory. You play as a little girl from a broken home somewhere in the American South. Exploring the lonely countryside reveals clues and vignettes which help the player answer the question of where home is—and how one can get there.

Key features:

  • A quiet, non-linear story told by the future self of a reflective narrator
  • Inspired by the rural countryside and stories like John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life
  • A 15-30 minute experience that can be completed in one sitting
  • An experience that focuses on atmosphere rather than action or puzzles
  • A rich, detailed environment that rewards players who explore with story insights and secret endings
  • Oculus Rift DK2 support (currently in beta)

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP+
    • Processor: Intel i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DX 9.0c video card with 256 MB VRAM and shader model 3.0 support
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 600 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel i5, 2.8+ GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 570, AMD Radeon 6870, or equivalent
    • DirectX: Version 10
    • Storage: 600 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Only Oculus SDK 0.4.4 supported currently
    Minimum:
    • OS: Mac OSX 10.7
    • Processor: Intel i5 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD 5000
    • Storage: 600 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu (14.04+ tested), Manjaro, Arch Linux, etc. (64-bit only)
    • Processor: Intel i5 1.8 GHz or AMD equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Any recent NVIDIA or AMD card (NVIDIA proprietary 352+ drivers tested)
    • Storage: 600 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Beta version - please visit discussion forum for more info
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Overall:
Mostly Positive (254 reviews)
Recently Posted
Toquinn
( 0.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
Home is Where One Starts is a very very short game. It'll take you about 30 minutes to beat, and there is no save button. The game is kinda like Gone home which i loved but not nearly as interesting. It has that same tone and atmosphere but it's just not as mysterious or as emotional. As you explore the world which id actually bigger than I thought it would be you'll find objects and certain location that will trigger well done dialogue by the person you play as. There isn't a lot of dialogue to be found and some are easily missable. Although you really don't need to find any of them except 3 which are really easy to find. This game comes to a swift and uneventful ending. I enjoyed my time with this game although it was very short. If you are the type of person who loves atmospheric games like GONE Home and is really into them this game you'll like if not dont buy this game you won't enjoy it. All in all its a short but sweet game for those who love games like gone home and i think it is worth buying on sale for 50 cents.
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Ben Z
( 1.2 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
Product received for free
I waited for the school bus to arrive instead of freeing myself from all of life's agonising pains...
It actually arrived.
10/10
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KeasbeyKnight
( 1.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
In general, the game isnt very exciting in any way. Just a sad story of a little girl. I know some/most people wouldnt like this, so if its not your thing dont waste your time. If it sounds okay, i would still recommend getting it on sale considering you can play the whole game in like half an hour (i did a lot of pointless exploring and unlocked all achievements).

Pros:
-decent story
-pretty sky
-flowers
-dog

Cons:
-kinda aimlessly walking around 90% of the time
-not exciting or challenging, like at all
-no running, no jumping
-no big ending
-very short
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wander j
( 0.3 hrs on record )
Posted: June 23
I can't bring myself to give this game a "not recommended" only because there is really very little here to "not recommend" or otherwise. Honestly the game took 18 minutes to complete and the experience is comprised of some walking and some brief narration. That's it. I wouldn't say those 18 minutes were wasted but I left this game just feeling hollow as I expected more.
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Scarab
( 1.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 11
Expectedly Short, Unexpectedly Moving,

I was gladly surprised by how much I enjoyed this experience. It was gentle, peaceful (for the most part), and for me personally, nostalgic - in way both good and bad. The life of the protagonist was obviously difficult, but not without joy. I image them growing up to be an astronomer or electrician just as the game hinted they would. The narration was also very believable and nicely done. I continually found new things on following playthroughs that even kept it interesting past the developers intended playtime. (Apparently people are speed-running it... somehow).

I have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with walking sims. I either adore them and their slow method of storytelling (as I did Rapture) or despise them (sorry folks, it was a great experience for some, I'm sure, but Dear Esther just didn't do it for me.) This one however was long enough to draw me in and I honestly wanted to see more of the young protagonists life and memory. This was kind of a flaw for me in that I would've loved to have more and the ending felt somewhat abrupt. I wonder how much of the game was inspired by experiences the developer had as a child - I can't image where else certain things in the game came from.

There are a few glitches that could use work - I occasionally walked through scenery, the game occasionally crashed, and appears to freeze when attempting to close, but this could be to do with my only being able to play on PC, and not owning an Oculus. I imagine that would not have such a problem.

Pros.
  • Beautiful graphics and music.
  • Believable narration well merged with the plot.
  • Subtle, but believable storytelling.
  • Empathetic protagonist.

Cons
  • Some mild gltiches with scenery
  • Occaisonal crashes with seeming no consistency.
  • Very short and with a quite abrupt ending.

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Qwsar73
( 1.0 hrs on record )
Posted: May 9
I have finished the game and i have to say, great game.
There is a story behind this and maybe not everyone will get it but it's a lovely one.
I finished it once but i will defenetly play it again, just to find every little secret in the game, i love the artstyle and the setting of the game, it really makes you think, it reminded me of when i was a bit younger, the good and the bad times.
I surely do miss it ,but enough about that.

If you want a little exploration game, with pretty graphics and a story to fall in love with it's definitly worth the 3€/$
Highly recommended game!
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CB007
( 3.9 hrs on record )
Posted: May 6
I'm not a big fan of this type of game, sometimes called a walking simulator. This one comes closest to being a net positive for me, but the walking speed is atrociously slow, and it simply takes too long to explore and find the interactive objects and locations. I'm not saying that it needs to be a race to the finish, but I can't imagine moving as slowly IRL as the character in this game does, it's agonizing at times when you want to check a place and have to slowly trudge there step by step. The setting and story are interesting, and I expect could really resonate with people who dealt with such issues as an alcoholic parent. There's no real direction for how to finish except to find things that happen to trigger memories and advance your understanding.
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Madbat
( 1.5 hrs on record )
Posted: May 2
This was a nice short little gem. The graphics are decent enough, good music, story, and narration. There's not a great amount of interactivity, basically wander around, look at stuff and collect memories, but I found it was an enjoyable hour and a half. It's good enough I'll run it again to snag all the achievements.
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Double Uppercut
( 0.6 hrs on record )
Posted: April 30
I don't mind short games. Not anymore, at least. And I don't mind walking simulators. There are some good ones out there like The Stanley Parable... and the Stanley Parable... and did I mention the Stanley Parable?

Home Is Where One Starts tells the story of a girl returning to an old trailer that she lived in with a drunk father, and you get to explore the area that she once lived in, as she recounts of her memories there. Under normal circumstances, this seems just like the kind of game I'd like, isn't it?

But these aren't normal circumstances.

First off, the world you visit, while pretty to look at is very stale after a while. There's only a handful of interactive items interspersed in this world that you can find, and actually finding them seems more like a chore, as the dog food and flask seemed more like a game of a scavenger hunt, but I wasn't promised a prize at the end.

Along with that, there really isn't anything unique to learn about the girl. Her dad was an abusive drunk, she liked space, and she liked to live out on her own, to create space from her father. Beyond that, she mentions little to nothing of her neighbors, her friends from school, her friends from out of school, her mother, her other relatives, the relationship her parents had. For a world she lived in, there aren't a lot of memories to be stimulated. Just a lot of things to look at with her voiceover telling you their significance.

If this game looks like the sort of artistic walking simulator that will whet your appetite, then by all means buy it. I'm sure you'd get more entertainment from it that I did. But I'm, unfortunately, giving this one a 5/10. I actually did want to like this game, but the lack of complexity or uniqueness makes this an ultimately forgettable experience.
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KicKaSS™
( 0.5 hrs on record )
Posted: April 30
How the F*CK did I end up buying this game???????

It's not a game even, it's a ♥♥♥♥♥♥ girl talking a bit and in 2 minutes it is all over...

I want a refund!!!
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
97 of 138 people (70%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 13, 2015
I enjoy some walking simulators, but this was not enjoyable.

There was honestly nothing to this game. A total of maybe 8 short voiceovers, less than a dozen items you could pick up (just to look at in slightly larger pixel format), and a trite, unmoving story.

I'm sorry for the negative review, but I think people deserve to know the negative aspects before buying a game.

(edited for what I guess was spoilers? How do you *not* spoil a game like this an actually give *any* detail at all? Not sure...)
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42 of 54 people (78%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 29, 2015
As someone who enjoyed Gone Home, Life is Strange, The Moon Sliver and Mind: Path to Thalamus, I thought I would enjoy this game too. Turns out I didn't.
First, it is stingy with the voice bits: I found interesting items that I thought would certainly trigger a monologue, such as the swing behind the house, which I thought would lead to a digression on the character's childhood. But nope, nothing happened when approaching that one and several other landmarks.
Second, it has one of the poorest implementations of invisible walls I've ever seen. There's for instance a big open wooden gate leading towards a house in the distance, but when you try to cross the threshhold, you simply can't advance anymore. Several other areas won't let you advance any further without even so much as fences to try and mask the invisible walls. Stinks of laziness by the dev's part.
Finally, the landmarks that do have audio bits are very far apart and don't have any indications, meaning you'll spend most of the playtime walking slowly and aimlessly, trying to guess where to go next.

The only thing this game has going for itself is the faily soothing and melancholic atmosphere, which it manages to pull off despite the outdated graphics. It's super short and, even though I got it in a sale at the Humble Store, I still feel cheated off my money, which is something I've felt with very few games ever.
If you like exploration games, Gone Home, A Story Of My Uncle, and Mind: Path to Thalamus are all much better options.
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29 of 33 people (88%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 13, 2015
Bittersweet story about a woman returning to her broken childhood home. The title itself derives from a poem by T.S. Eliot, quoted below. It is a very short game but surprisingly rewards interest; voice acting and general ambience is spot on. Lacks many of the pretentions inherit in this genre of video gaming, namely in the form of Dear Esther. The narrative is relatable and has a simple beauty; its presentation is accessible and does not intend to overawe the player with literary jargon. Well worth the little fee I paid for it.

“Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.”
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29 of 34 people (85%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: June 10, 2015
First playthrough time: 1 hour

Major Pros:
Emotional “a day in the life” story experience
Calm no-rush feel with no time related events

Minor Pros:
Free exploration
Easy and fun-to-acquire achievements cover all dialog triggers
Main character is a little girl with an awesome elephant backpack who likes electronics and space

Major Cons:
Short with almost no replay value
Almost all the gameplay is centered on story dialog which only comes in English and has no subtitle option

Minor Cons:
The player isn’t given an explicit goal
It’s not always clear everywhere the player should go to trigger necessary dialog
No where does it tell you you can crouch, but you need to for a side dialog
image


The game is pretty short, but in that time the story is sweet. Almost everything is told through the dialog which is limited to only English and has no option for subtitles, making this a game you can really only get the most out of if you can hear and understand what’s being said. Some basics of the girl’s past can be gleaned without the dialog, but the player will miss her personal feelings on things and a lot of the detail. Since there is no branching or any sort of time dependent events, the game lacks any replay value unless you’re looking for achievements. The achievements are fun and completing them all means you’ve found all the interactable items, dialog triggers, and “secrets” in the game, which gives a sense of completion. Partly because of there being no time related events, combined with the scenery and dialog, the game has a very relaxing feel to it that asks the player to simple sit and experience the story. The exploration is free form and everything except the last area (which unlocks after all the required dialog is triggered) can be done in any order. Along with this free form theme, the player isn’t given an explicit goal when starting the game. After exploring a while, it’ll become clear that the goal is to trigger the story and once you’ve found it, figure out a way to open the locked tool shed. There’s no puzzle to this part, you only have to explore the proper areas to trigger the necessary dialog before you’ll be told where to get the shed key and it’ll become obtainable. Another somewhat minor annoyance in the lack-of-direction department is that the player can indeed crouch in the game, but nothing tells you this. It’s only needed to get one side dialog, but for players trying to get the related achievement the game leaves you to figure that out on your own. Overall I found the story a wonderful although short experience. Players that are a fan of non-stereotypical female protagonists will also notice that the little girl in the story is a fan of electronics and space and has a gameboy in her room.
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39 of 53 people (74%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 5, 2015
Short game. Many things to find (items/ locations) find them all its like searching your own childhood maybe or what you would want/ like. Enjoy this little master piece and use the kid in you to get back in memories to good old times. I love it and i hope many others will enjoy this little story, too. Have a nice day and enjoy your life every second. Thanks for reading.
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14 of 15 people (93%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2015
"Memories of an abandoed junky trailer and a always drunken Dad"

Nice and beautiful walking similator / exploration game. Made in Unity engine it has a petty sundown with lens flares, water surfaces, woods, leaves and some other fancy 3D objects. Love the mood of sentimenatalism and the female narrators voice. Riddles are easy to solve within a hour.
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16 of 19 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 31, 2015
hmmm....the product page fairly well describes this games story actually:

" is a short, first-person exploration game in the same vein as Dear Esther or Gone Home. It’s an experience where every object has been carefully placed to tell a poignant story—a story about childhood, hope, and the miracle of memory. You play as a little girl from a broken home somewhere in the American South. Exploring the lonely countryside reveals clues and vignettes which help the player answer the question of where home is—and how one can get there"

although maybe some of that is actually a bit more ambiguous in the game itself.

That said, it was a pleasant little journey around the little girls home, and the triggers for unlocking memories were cool (or rather, the items and places were....). It was just a very nice way to spend a half hour or so. Definitely wander around and click on any objects that are different than the normal trash lying around, and wander everywhere. There are invisible fences (that are sort of indicated by visible fence posts, lol), so you really cant wander off that far and there is generally something to find in every direction.

As always, I sort of wish there was a fast walking option, but that is just a personal thing and not a requirement for the enjoyment of this game. I think it's worth visiting and give it 8 rememberances out of 10 while looking back upon your maybe less than idyllic youth.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 2, 2015
A bitter-sweet story of childhood, with memories of riding a bike. Definitely worth experiencing, though expect it to be short. You can finish it with all 8 achievements on 2-3 playthroughs, all within an hour and a half... which is far less time than it takes for the first card to drop. Now that I have finished it, I will have to let it idle for the card drops. :)
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10 of 12 people (83%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 28, 2015
A scenic walking simulator that is a good find in a bundle. 7/10 in a bundle, 5/10 at full price
Like gone home, but shorter.
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11 of 14 people (79%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 29, 2015
Short enough and cheap enough to not be worth it. Ten or so different voice overs, each of which is vague enough to be computer generated, and I really do mean that, no specifics. They have no connection to the scenery or what I'm interacting with. Or pulled from random pages of a journal so they don't have any shared context. There are perhaps 13-14 items to pick up and touch, though there is no real information you gather from them.

The music is really nice, though loops for a while and then just stops. Visually, half the assets are nice, and half are awful. Having them all in the similar quality vein would have been much preferred. There are achievements, yes and if you wish to do them all, it might take an hour, maybe a little bit more. There are *technically* multiple endings, but... even then they are vague and bring really nothing to any sort of central plot or story or even bring much context to the life of the main character.

It's an incredibly empty experience. Short enough to not leave any impact, or have long enough to build up any sort of story or plot or really anything. BUT HEY IT'S ONLY 3 DOLLARS RIGHT? Wish it was 20 bucks for like 10x the game. I love walking sims, but you need like, you know a story to walk for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR0N6_X33wU
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