A Game To Say Goodbye
HIGH A touching story built around a unique stageplay look.
LOW I wanted to find out what happened after the end!
WTF No dogs to pet, but plenty of cats.
This debut title from studio Humble Grove is centered around the personal stories of its two developers and their struggle to find a comfortable identity while also trying to find a place in a world that doesn’t seem to care about them.
No Longer Home is described as a point-and-click adventure, but it’s really more of an interactive fiction since there are no puzzles whatsoever. The player will alternatively control characters Ao and Bo while they organize a farewell barbecue for their friends and try to make sense of their relationship up to that point. The player will choose what replies the two will give during the conversations in addition to exploring their house, which adds some interesting detail to the narrative, but is not required to advance the story.
Interestingly, while exploring the player will find a mysterious object that will enable them to flip the view around the house. This seems to open up a few interesting possibilities, but is not used to any great effect since the focus of play remains centered on the narrative.
No Longer Home tackles some important topics by centering on the personal struggles of its characters, Ao and Bo, such as their direction in life, their parents’ expectations, and how those things influenced their choices and lives during their daily struggle for genderless identity.
Playing NLH feels like reading a few pages of a diary, or perhaps eavesdropping on personal conversations through paper-thin walls. Naturally, this way of writing can feel very effective if one can relate to the characters. Personally, I was drawn in from the first minute, since even without the frames of an ordinary A to B narrative, their problems and struggles are easy to relate to.
While No Longer Home is a bit on the short side (it offers a couple of hours at most) it does not feel incomplete or in need of elaboration. It’s a short, personal story framed as a (sort of) stage play with environments appearing and disappearing around the characters. As such, No Longer Home seems to be a simple 3D adventure in screenshots, but seeing the environment transform in real time is quite effective in transporting the player to a space where time seems to have stopped. To complement this ambiance, a soundtrack of ambient music and electronica flows perfectly with the tone of the conversations.
Personally, I can honestly attest to being drawn in by the charm of the simple narrative while watching two characters struggle to find their way around gender fluidity. At the heart of it, these two are trying to find direction in their lives and I felt that I could relate. If one likes narrative titles with a clear purpose and interesting look, No Longer Home recieves my personal recommendation.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Humble Grove and published by MWM Interactive. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: this game is not rated by the ESRB, but it contains depictions of depression and mentions of dysphoria and stabbing. Nothing too extreme, so I would still recommend this to a teen audience (maybe 14+).
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game does not feature spoken dialogue, everything is subtitled. I would like to give bonus points for the audio descriptions for the soundtrack which are incredibly detailed and really well done. The game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game’s controls are remappable. There is no control diagram. Using the analog stick moves the character around, while the A button is to select replies during conversations. The various interactions with the objects require particular movement of the analogue sticks or a combination of buttons.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).