Neon Cornwall: Leave Home

Good morning, Internet. This morning I wish to drag before your giant unblinking eye of judgment the game Leave Home. According to its creator, Matt James, it is “an algorithmic dynamic difficulty horizontal shooter / coming of age story”, and what this means is that although it features waves of enemies and a few environmental traps, just like any other shooter, they’re not the same waves each time you play. The game responds to your abilities, and so it changes to become harder or easier, depending on your awesomeness. That’s a peculiar property for any game, and I can’t actually think of any instances of it working particularly well. Fortunately Leave Home is extremely pretty and demands to be replayed, and you will find the changes challenging in a good way. Whether it’s worth $5 though? Well, for a few of you it will be. You should probably try the demo, or check out the trailer below.


  1. Freud says:

    It worked for Oblivion!

    • Vinraith says:

      Actually level scaling failed rather dramatically for Oblivion, which is why it needs the like’s of Oscuro’s or FCOM to make it into something solidly playable to higher levels. Fallout 3 got the balance a bit better, though (though at this point I wouldn’t play it without FWE).

    • Spacewalk says:

      Worked for Zanac!

  2. RobF says:

    Still my favourite game from last year, this.

  3. JWill says:

    Left 4 Dead. Dynamic horde and SI spawns based on how well you are doing. I think it worked rather well.

  4. Zogtee says:

    Get it on Steam and I’ll buy it.

  5. Mo says:

    “Whether it’s worth $5 though?”

    Spoiler: It totally is.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Dynamic difficulty has been a pretty common feature in shmups for many, many years. Not quite changing as much as Leave Home claims to, but enemy aggression and density of bullet patterns scales to player ability in a lot of games.

  7. Rich says:

    Not when I can buy full games for a pittance. Maybe when this golden age is over.

  8. Alexander Norris says:

    The Geometry Wars look seems to really be in for indies this season.

    • Urthman says:

      It looks a lot more like a Kenta Cho game than it does Geometry Wars

      link to

      Kenta Cho’s games are all free, and some of them (rRootage, Parsec47, maybe Tumiki Fighters) rank among the finest SHMUPS ever made.

  9. MattJames says:

    The way I approached dynamic difficulty for Leave Home was to try and keep the player in control. It’s up to you to push the game harder by killing more stuff, collecting more blue chips and being more angry and aggressive. If you ease off then the game will be easier on you but, of course, you’ll score less. I agree that dynamic difficulty doesn’t work very well when the mechanics are hidden or abstracted from the player but I think you can be successful when the difficulty adjustment is accessible and easy to understand (Geometry Wars, Espgaluda, Burnout, anything with a risk reward structure really operates like this).

  10. Dr Lulz says:

    @MattJames I, for one, really like the game. It is one of the few games I can play, no matter which mood I am in. Like you said, the dynamic difficulty allows for me to either take it easy and shoot stuff on an angry day, or aim higher on a good day.

    All I would say is that I wish there were more levels, but for roughly £3-4, it’s not bad. Not much content, but quite huge playability, and simple gameplay…

    …OK, You got me! I like it because it’s retro, damnit! >_<

  11. groovychainsaw says:

    I offer up the King Kong game – don’t laugh – produced by industry legend michael ancel, it had a great adaptive difficulty that made the game just the right side of challenging for me all the way through.

    (apart from that time I’d had a blinding bit of skills,survived about an hour and a half of increasingly challenging baddies and turned up in a clearing with no ammo and a spear, only to be met by 3 (3!) T-Rexs. The game had obviously decided to kill me by that point.) But, anyway, it was a good example of a fairly average game raised up by a consistent challenge. Done well, adaptive difficulty is the future…?

    /Downloads game to find out

    • TeeJay says:

      I don’t know why but I read that as “Donkey Kong”…

      …what clearing!


  12. John Peat says:

    When I tried the demo it lacked my own screen res, so I emailled Matt and he added it – you don’t get that service from just any old developer…

    I can only praise the game too – it really does play at the level to you choose it to, it deserves it’s place in the pantheon next to Warning Forever and other standout shooters.

  13. PixelProspector says:

    Fantastic game!
    Any shooter veteran should at least try out the demo…

  14. dethtoll says:

    If this game doesn’t use Chemical Brothers’ “Leave Home (Underworld Mix)” in its soundtrack I’m spending my five bucks on Wendy’s instead.

    • Thants says:

      The brother’s gonna work it out. The brother’s gonna work it out.

  15. Caiman says:

    Any game that incorporates the ZX Spectrum tape noise into the soundtrack (even if only for the trailer) instantly gets my money.

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    Hodge says:

    Damn you RPS.