Release Date: March 6, 2020
Rating: T (Teen)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
A code for this game was provided by Sometimes You
What’s It All About?
Breeder Homegrown: Director’s Cut is a bite-sized, story-focused horror game presented with retro-style pixel graphics. Its emphasis on audio design and dialogue make it most comparable to a visual novel, but there is an occasional light environmental puzzle or two to help mix things up. You play as an elderly man named David who revisits his childhood home, reminiscing about the monsters both literal and figurative that haunted his family. As David walks from room to room, he remembers a handful of traumatic incidents involving his parents, his stepmother, and a mysterious creature only referred to as “buddy” that dwells within in a hole in the ground behind the house.
Breeder Homegrown excels in the area of atmosphere. The sound design is very effective and helps to create an eerie ambience as you explore every nook and cranny of David’s home in both the past and present. The soundtrack is appropriately eerie and minimalist and almost always complements the tone of the scene. An 8-bit pixel art style is used for the graphics that, while lacking in detail, are occasionally used to interesting effect when scaled for dramatic sequences. Lighting effects account for most of the game’s visual flair, and help to keep things from looking too drab.
The storytelling is relatively simple, but it is fun to poke around David’s house, investigating objects to try to piece together the tragic history of his family. The story’s horror elements are subtle, with only one or two instances of actual violence. However, this is a story that is meant for mature audiences, with some pretty dark themes of domestic conflict examined through the relationship between David’s father and stepmother. Examining this conflict through the perspective of a child makes it all the more uncomfortable and tragic.
Games like Breeder Homegrown beg several questions, such as “how short is too short?” and “how simple is too simple?” The latter question is mostly justified by the game’s structure, which is similar to that of a visual novel. For as short as the game is, however, some segments still felt like they existed to pad out the length.
Midway through, there’s a stealth/puzzle segment that relies on trial-and-error gameplay, forcing you to repeat the entire sequence of events if you make a single mistake, which doesn’t really fit with the rest of the game. There is also a dialogue tree that similarly makes you select a very specific series of responses before you can continue, and these choices often felt arbitrary. Moments like these make me wish that a 60-80 minute experience was closer to 30-40.
There are occasional collision and transparency issues that take you out of the experience, but my biggest complaint is that it is sometimes a little too difficult to tell where to go next. At one point early on, I had to investigate a closed door within the house in order to move on. Unfortunately, the dark graphics and lack of direction made it difficult to even tell where the door was. This goes back to the issue with padding out the length, as some dialogue-triggering objects are intentionally placed in hard-to-see spots.
I mostly enjoyed the short time I spent with Breeder Homegrown. Even with the issue of some padding, it goes by quickly and is priced appropriately for a short horror experience. The story is hauntingly tragic and aided by some fantastic audio design that benefits from the use of headphones. While some major story elements are left open for interpretation, those who enjoy reading short horror stories will likely have a fun and creepy time hanging out with David and his monsters.