Ever worked in a call centre? If not, you can count your blessings but, for the most part, Home Safety Hotline makes the experience wonderfully weird and, dare I say it, fulfilling. Though, I warn you, you may never look at your home in the same way. You can bet I’m checking for ‘bed teeth’ before I get under the covers tonight.
Wondering what on earth I’m talking about? Don’t worry, dive into Home Safety Hotline and spotting boggarts and other household oddities will become second nature. This unique horror game casts you as a fresh-faced call centre employee, tasked with advising people on their household problems. Only these aren’t your average infestations.
Sure, you start off advising folks on cockroaches, black mold and so on. But, bit by bit, you’re drawn into the world of the supernatural. That noise at night? It’s not rats: you’ve got a ‘common hobb’ in your home. Food suddenly appeared on your table? Don’t worry, that’s just a fae making their presence felt. Though you’ve still got to watch out for that fae flu.
It’s the kind of folklore that sounds like it could be ripped from any number of books. But developer Night Signal Entertainment has crafted its own little world of the supernatural. Home Safety Hotline’s lore is familiar in tone but original enough that each new discovery is a delight. It’s a good thing that callers don’t hang up because I spent way too much time poring over each entry, grinning at the sheer creativity of it all.
Not that Home Safety Hotline’s callers, who are filtered through an amazing 90s-era Compuserve-style interface, make it too easy for you. This isn’t Papers Please, where you know exactly what you’re looking for. Each of your callers, barring one wonderfully persistent prankster, has their own unique and sometimes misleading take. It’s up to you to sift through the chatter and, with the aid of your database, pick out what’s ailing them.
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Succeed, and you’ll get a pat on the back. Fail and you get a call back which, if you’re lucky, ends with them telling you how awful you are. But the further you push into the game, the more your failures can become fatal for your callers. No pressure. But you’ll get a rush of joy from getting things right, become an expert at divining these entirely fictional problems. Sometimes you won’t even have to gaze at your database, which is helpful because… well, I won’t spoil the surprise.
Home Safety Hotline does occasionally sag, when you’re on your seventh-or-so caller of the day, and you’ve uncovered most of the hazards. The further you push on into the game, the more callers you have to deal with. And while there’s the odd curveball, the late game doesn’t mix things up quite as much as it could. Actual call centre workers have it worse of course, but I’d have appreciated some of the days being shorter.
As a whole, Home Safety Hotline doesn’t outstay its welcome, and it’s an absolute treat for lovers of folklore or fans of the uncanny. I never thought I’d say it, but this is one call centre I’ve absolutely loved clocking into.