What is Sweet Home?
Sweet Home is a survival horror role-playing video game developed by Capcom – It’s widely considered to be the first survival horror video game and the predecessor to the original Resident Evil series.
It was released with the movie it was based on; a 1989 Japanese movie of the same name directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa in which a film crew goes to an abandoned mansion of a famous artist in order to restore some paintings and make a documentary, but are trapped and haunted by ghosts that emerge, and discover horrific secrets on the grounds of a mansion.
In the video game adaptation, The plot is mostly the same, with the player having to explore the mansion and fight or run away from poltergeists and other unpleasant entities. The game’s director, Tokura Fujiwara, visited the movie set in order to get inspiration for the game and took a lot of liberties with the script. The game Sweet Home greatly overshadowed the film in terms of popularity but was never localized because RPGs were not yet popular outside of Japan, and was thought to be too scary for a western audience. An English fan translation patch for the original Nintendo Famicom release has been available for several years.
Despite the game being limited to a Japanese audience at first, it greatly inspired the birth of the original Resident Evil series, which was met with great critical acclaim and commercial success, which continues to this day. The release of the remakes of horror games Resident Evil 3 in 2020 and Resident Evil 2 in 2019 have been widely praised by critics and gamers alike. Sweet Home employs a lot of elements that are still present in the games today, such as area exploration, horror elements, Quick Time Events, and inventory management.
How Do You Play Sweet Home?
The game’s plot starts out very similar to the movie – A film crew comes to an old, rotting mansion to find, recover, and restore frescoes by famous artist Ichirō Mamiya and make a documentary. Ichirō Mamiya hid these paintings within the walls of the Mansion but ended up mysteriously disappearing 30 years earlier to the events of the story.
When the film crew enters the mansion, a rockslide blocks the exit, trapping them inside. To make things worse, a terrifying ghost woman then appears, vows to end their lives.
Once the players become trapped in the mansion, it’s a race against time before the crumbling mansion comes crashing down on top of them, if one of the many ghosts and monsters don’t get them first.
Much like in the original Resident Evil games, the story is told through cutscenes and little messages scattered throughout the mansion in the form of notes and diary entries. Oh, and the occasional corpse.
It’s eventually revealed that the ghost is Lady Mamiya, Ichirō’s wife, chained to the afterlife by guilt after their two-year-old son came to harm by falling into the house’s incinerator. In a mournful and misguided attempt to comfort her son beyond the grave, she took up killing other children as a hobby so he would have someone to play with, but the guilt drove her to suicide and corroded her soul, leaving her unable to move on physically from the mansion. Lady Mamiya serves as the boss in the final battle.
Sweet Home is a first-person role-playing video game in which you navigate the long complex halls of the mansion in order to escape before it crumbles on top of you.
There are five playable characters and you can explore the mansion by yourself or with one or two other people, switching between teams as you please.
The director of the documentary and has the highest HP. He possesses a lighter that can be used to light candles or burn ropes.
A nurse. Basically the healer of the group, she has a medical kit that can heal ailments.
The cameraman. His camera can take pictures and unveil hidden messages in the frescoes. He has the highest defense stat.
A maid. She wields a vacuum cleaner that removes broken glass and helps clean frescoes.
Kazuo’s daughter. She has a lock pick and the highest speed stat.
The items can be passed between characters as necessary.
The gameplay is heavily puzzle-based with an emphasis on inventory management and survival. There are many items around the mansion the player can make use of. Members of the team may find pill bottles to heal ailments, or find things like random wooden boards that allow you to bridge gaps in the floor to progress in the game, much like the Resident Evil games that came after.
As the characters explore the mansion, enemies, like zombies, dolls, skulls, ghosts, and various other horrors may appear and you can choose to fight or run away.
Players can restore their health with vials of tonics that are placed around the mansion, but they’re very limited in quantity, so they are to be used sparingly. There are also quick time events (like getting the hell out of the way of a boulder) that can easily be the difference between life or death.
And IF your character dies, they’re dead for the rest of the game. That’s it. But the items specific to your character can still be used by other characters or substituted for items that serve the same purpose, such as a broom instead of a vacuum cleaner for cleaning up broken glass.
Sweet Home also includes a spiritual and training aspect. In order to receive certain items, players may have to use a ‘pray’ function to receive favor.
For example, you may have to pray before a suit of armor in order to release the spear from its hand, but if your prayer level is not high enough, you will not be able to receive it. Characters can also be cursed by items scattered throughout the mansion, and then they have to be rescued by the other team members.
Because character deaths can be varied and are permanent, the story has five different possible endings depending on which characters remain alive after the defeat of the final boss.