Another ordinary morning. You’re tending to your front yard while your young daughter plays.
Suddenly, you catch sight of rebel forces marching in. You freeze. Then comes the sound of a rocket whistling…
– BOOM –
Debris rains from the sky. You feel yourself losing consciousness. The last thing you see is your brother and daughter fleeing, her arms outstretched, tears streaming down her face…
This is the cinematic intro to Home Behind, where you play as a father who has just lost all that is dear to him amidst a chaotic civil war. Left for dead on the edge of a desert, the only thing left to you now is an abandoned pull cart. With it, you must traverse war-torn country in search of your family. But the road is long, filled with starvation, hypothermia and violence.
While the game’s comic book art may take an edge off the gravitas, every randomly-generated encounter adds to the brutality: thieving townsfolk, riotous rebels, wild animals and vicious weather. You must craft your weapon and fight your way through with improvised tools and human wit. But in order to survive, you must live like an animal; eating raw meat and insects, drinking from abandoned toilets. You will be forced to do things you never thought yourself capable of. Even to commit atrocities.
This seemingly unreal survival challenge is exhilarating. In some countries, however, such chaos is a reality. Unlike in a game, fleeing refugees cannot save their progress. There is no respawn. Home Behind, if anything, is a reminder of the horrors of war and devastation it brings to innocent people. In the words of Kenyan-born British writer Warsan Shire about the plight of refugees worldwide, “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”