After a series of delays, Stay Out of the House finally made it’s way onto Steam at the back end of last year. As Puppet Combo’s passion project, it was only inevitable that it would eventually end up on consoles too.

So, now that it’s here, was it worth the wait?

Many thanks to Puppet Combo for the review code.

The game opens up in a petrol station as your ill-fated character starts her night shift. After a brief conversation with your colleague, you’re left alone to twiddle your thumbs, look at the porn rack, and maybe play the arcade game in the corner for a bit. Occasionally a customer might come in for you to deal with, but otherwise it’s a pretty slow shift. Well, until certain events lead to your unfortunate demise, at least.

Fast forward slightly, and the true protagonist Roxanne is struggling to stay awake in her boyfriend’s car. After he goes out for a pee break and doesn’t return, she goes off in search of him and stumbles across the eponymous house. Needless to say, things don’t go well and she finds herself getting trapped in a cage ready to become a feast for this freak and his mother.

With three days until you become ground beef, your goal is to escape the house and reach safety. There’s not a huge amount to the story, but there also doesn’t need to be either. For the most part it feels like a playable video nasty that intends to shock you with its excessive gore and scares. More lore can be found via notes scattered around but, for the most part, what you see it what you get.

This VHS horror style also extends to the games visuals, with the blurriness and flickering making it seem like it was recorded from a cheap video camera. It can feel a little bit too much, especially as it does result in the text being pretty hard to read at times, but thankfully the filters can be customised to suit your own personal tastes. I went with something more reminiscent of the PS1 era, but your preferences may vary. 


For those that have played Nun Massacre and Murder House, Stay Out of the House feels like a cross between the two. Murder House was a mostly guided experience, albeit with a small portion of the game having you solve some straightforward puzzles whilst avoiding a roaming killer. Nun Massacre was almost entirely set in a large labyrinthine boarding school with inventory items scattered all over as you try to progress with a psychotic nun on your trail. This game feels more like the latter, albeit with a much smaller and intimate location that feels far less overwhelming as a result.

In order to escape, you’ll need to obtain the front door key – but getting to that point will require you to solve a plethora of puzzles that allow you to access all the areas of the house and obtain the items you need. They’re mostly pretty simple affairs, but they work rather well. Ventilation shafts are opened by obtaining a screwdriver and unscrewing it; padlocks need the codes to be found; a broken clock needs to be repaired and set to the right time to open up a secret passageway; and so on. Whilst many are lifted wholesale from previous Puppet Combo titles, they fit perfectly here and maintain their effectiveness. Sure, some more unique puzzle types would have been a lot more welcome, but it never bothered me either.

Of course, the puzzles are mainly there to get you exploring the house and into potential trouble. As you explore the multiple floors of the house, you’ll need to avoid the Butcher, who patrols the building trying to find you. Think of him like the Xenomorph from Alien Isolation: he wanders slowly around trying to work out where you are, but will make a beeline to your location should he spot you. He won’t kill you until your three days are up, but he will knock you unconscious and take all your stuff away, leaving you to awake the next evening to try again. It’s effectively a clever way of implementing a life system, but feels far more interesting as you figure out how to escape your new cell and relocate your belongings. The Butcher will also make things harder upon failure, as extra cameras and traps will be placed around the house as he tries to prevent any further attempts to escape.

Whilst the Butcher is the one you don’t want to be caught by, the bigger threat is his mother. She’ll start off watching TV, but once she starts helping her son, she becomes the true menace. Speeding around on her electrical wheelchair and screaming for her son after finding you, she’ll be the one you end up cursing the most. On the plus side, she’s also far more fragile and can be taken down permanently should you choose to do so.


It’s a really great gameplay loop and feels like a refinement of the Puppet Combo formula. It feels like all his games have been building up to this point, and the result is a real delight to play. With multiple possible endings and various difficulty settings, it’s also surprisingly accessible, even for those who don’t consider themselves to be particularly good at the genre. The limited save system combined with the sole save room can make things rather stressful, but the length of the game means you won’t lose that much progress provided that you make sure to save every now and then.

Unfortunately, the game isn’t without its issues as it does suffer from a few unfortunate bugs. A handful are minor and don’t affect enjoyment, such as some interactable objects not shining like they should, or hatches that feel a little bit too wonky to open at times; however, the worst are the game-ending bugs that can force a complete restart. One I encountered was a padlock early into the game that I was unable to interact with until I restarted the chapter; however, the biggest one I had was right at the end, leaving me unable to trigger the ending. Thankfully Puppet Combo have informed me that these issues will be in a day 1 patch (or soon thereafter), so I will update the review in the coming days  to confirm whether or not this can be fixed.


Stay Out of the House may very well be the best Puppet Combo release on the Switch yet. It does recycle quite a few elements seen in the likes of Nun Massacre and Murder House, but it refines them pretty much to perfection. Once the patch comes to fix the handful of bugs, this will become a must-buy for horror aficionados.