Bite Sized Reviews: The Longing

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Bite Sized Reviews: The Longing

So…. This isn’t a review, of sorts. Yep, my title isn’t the most accurate for this game. The Longing is a 400-day-long game, after all.

You heard that correctly. The Longing is a few years old now, launching back in May 2020. That was smack in the middle of worldwide lockdowns during the Covid pandemic. People were either in their essential jobs or stuck inside. Rough times. The Longing is a unique experience in the gaming market in how it measures time. Part idle game, part walking sim, players are in for the long haul with this one, and I’ve greatly enjoyed my time with The Longing so far. As I write this ‘review’, I am ten days into my little character’s story, so this might work better as a series.

The concept of it is simple. Playing as a little shade, your master falls into a deep slumber — a mighty king of an underground realm. After centuries of power, your ruler and heart have grown weary. It is time to sleep, and he commands his little Shade minion to stay in the vast labyrinth until he wakes up. That will be four hundred days later, give or take. Then all you need to do is wake him up.

That’s the game. Time passes in the real world during The Longing, even while you’re not playing it. Four hundred days is a long time even idle, longer than a year of real-time. Thankfully you don’t have to sit in the game that long. You don’t have to do anything. If you wish, you can just boot the game, run through the opening cutscene of the king — and do nothing else. 400 days later, boot it up again, wake up the king, and complete the game. Of course, the little Shade will be pretty lonely and with no interaction from you, it kinda defeats the purpose of The Longing. Still, it is awesome that the game allows that option. It’ll probably mean a ‘bad ending’, but that’s down to player choice.

The Longing was originally designed to be played only once, and for a long time after launch, that was the case. After popular demand, however, the developers added an option to restart the game. While it’s not the optimal way to play to maximize the emotional impact, this was a great move. I imagine many players would only dip into the game in and out across the 400 days, and that’s a long time for a game to play out.

While in the game, there’s a lot to do. Exploring the massive underground kingdom takes time, as does simple actions. Sometimes, your little Shade will come across a massive door. It’ll open in real-time but can take several days. Or in another case, a giant ravine that’s slowly filling with water. That might make it safe to cross in a few weeks. Take random walks around the realm, pick up materials for simple crafting, or find ways to make your little home more comfortable. Draw art or read books in real time. It’s both cosy and chilling in equal measure — a lone soul, trying to stay on the edge of sanity while waiting for his slumbering king.

So, this is my ‘initial impressions’ of The Longing. I can’t properly judge it until the end, which will be sometime mid 2025. However, it doesn’t require much of my energy. I’ll keep dipping in and out of the game to check on the little Shade. I don’t want him to get too lonely.

About the Author

TheThousandScarAuthor/Blogger/Cartographer/Streamer/Narrative Game Writer/I play far too many games. |

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