Game: No Longer Home
Genre: Visual Novel, Adventure, Indie
System: Nintendo Switch (also available for Steam, Windows, macOS, Linux and Xbox)
Developer | Publisher: Humble Grove | Fellow Traveller
Rating: US Teen | EU 16+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £11.99 | EU € 12,99
Release Date: October 7th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Double Jump PR
No Longer Home is a deeply personal game, focused mainly on story and conversation. It’s a little too interactive to be properly called a visual novel, but it does resemble one in loads of different ways.
Gameplay and Story
The story of No Longer Home is about two non-binary people who meet during college. Ao is a transfer student from Japan, while Bo is a London native. After becoming close, the two have moved in together for their final years at university, but all that is quickly coming to a close. Both have graduated, and Ao’s visa will no longer allow them to stay in the country after graduation.
Facing leaving an apartment filled to the brim with personal touches and memories, both Ao and Bo grieve their upcoming losses. Each takes time to comb over the apartment, looking at old artwork, unfinished projects, and even throwing a party for some friends for probably the last time. They are inching closer to the end of an important era in their lives, and Bo, Ao, and the friends they made at school can feel it coming.
This story is both sad and hopeful, thoughtful and touching. There are a lot of mentions of low pay and rotten jobs with terrible hours, but the entirety of the game takes place inside the apartment where Bo, Ao, and others feel safe and at home.
This game is semi-autobiographical, based on the college days of developers Cel Davison and Hana Lee when they attended Camberwell College of Arts together. It’s storytelling through touch; No Longer Home is a study of how a “playful exploration of a place can tell a narrative.”
The gameplay of No Longer Home is fairly simple. Players can walk, run, interact with objects, and rotate the camera to find more objects to interact with. Each object tells a little story, from the mop that the neighbors stole that Bo and Ao were too scared to steal back to the posters on the wall and the rotting fruit on the counter. Interaction with NPC’s in the game generates interactive choices that allow the player to control the flow of the conversation, making choices like an old texted-based adventure.
The Pros of No Longer Home
No Longer Home is deeply moving. The story starts off with our two main characters coming together for the first time to chat, then moving in together. After that, we are transported to the end of their university career. Watching as the beautiful bubble that they have built filled with laughter and friendship slowly come apart. It allows both the players and the characters moments to grieve at what change can bring.
The controls and interactivity are simplistic and slow, but it feels necessary to the plot and the feeling of an impending wave coming to shore. Everyone knows it’s on the way, but everyone is trying to ignore it for just a little longer, and the controls allow the player to sort of feel how Bo and Ao feel about their memories and their place.
The art style reminds me of Untitled Goose Game in the best of ways; it’s simple but still detailed enough to let players get a good sense of what they are looking at. Everything is lovingly rendered with tons of details hiding in each of the rooms that players can explore.
The Cons of No Longer Home
The controls are a little slow, but also a little strange sometimes. There is a floating icon over things that can be interacted with. For doors, it shows a closed-door icon, and when you are close enough to interact with it, it changes to an open door icon. For items, there is an open eye that closes as soon as the player can interact with the item.
However, sometimes when one thing is highlighted as interactable, clicking on it will freeze the game up for a few seconds, interact with the wrong thing, or just do nothing at all. Sometimes to reset it, I had to rotate the room a couple of times to get the icon to display again. I’m not sure if this had something to do with the way the Switch version was ported. Or if this is a problem with all of the platforms, but it did make interacting with the rooms a lot harder than it had to be.
I also think this game could be a little bit shorter. As connected as I was to the characters, there were a couple of conversations that felt out of place and went on a little too long. However, it wasn’t enough to make me give up before I saw credits.
I loved this game. It felt so incredibly personal that I could feel the emotions of Bo and Ao. They are both great characters, and I fell in love with the little apartment that they were so attached to. Also, you can pet the cats in this game. There is nothing I love more than to pet animals in any game! Overall, I really liked this game, and I think it’s worth a try for anyone, gamer or not, who loves vibrant stories.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.