No Longer Home Review: An Intimate Peek Into the Human Experience
Typically, I’m a gamer that leans heavily into JRPGs, dungeon crawlers, roguelikes, and deckbuilders. That’s not to say that I turn my nose up at other genres, but they usually just don’t catch my interest as easily. But every now and then, it’s nice to take a break from the usual difficulty and drama of saving the world and experience something a bit… cozier. Such as No Longer Home, from Humble Grove, a semi-autobiographical game centered around the post-university lives of two people.
A Surprisingly Relatable Experience
No Longer Home focuses on the lives of two non-binary people, Ao and Bo, who are figuring out what to do with their lives now that they’re graduating university. Complicating matters is the fact that Ao has to return to Japan thanks to government rules on their visa. Faced with an uncertain future for both their career prospects and their personal relationship, Ao and Bo have to look back on the life and memories they’ve built over the past year of living together.
I don’t want to give away too many of the story specifics, as the game is rather short, but I can say that it is a surprisingly intimate experience. And, with the exceptions of the strange, demon-like roommates and whatever is growing beneath the flat, it’s quite human and relatable. It’s a story about grappling with uncertain futures, life changes, relationships, mental health, and even identity.
A Small Yet Immersive World
The gameplay of No Longer Home is a fairly straightforward affair. Players will alternate between controlling Ao or Bo and wandering around the flat, looking at the monuments to their past year together. In doing so, you’ll be given glimpses into their thoughts and feelings, their wants and worries. It really makes the game’s world feel much larger than it is, especially considering the flat consists of only a couple of rooms and a backyard area. You’ll occasionally also interact with Ao and Bo’s group of friends, who will reminisce about all the good times they’ve had together. Or they may even build a fort in one of the rooms where you can all play a game together (the game-within-a-game was done quite well, too).
As you explore and interact with your surroundings, you can rotate the camera, which will allow you to view things from a new perspective (sounds obvious, right?). But I mean that literally – doors and objects you couldn’t see or interact with before will appear. It’s a fun little effect that will open up early on in the game, and again somehow manages to expand the game’s little world. There are quite a few conversations between Ao and Bo to be had as well, and I noticed that sometimes you’ll be given the option of replying with Ao or Bo, which can give the dialogue a decidedly different feel depending on what you choose.
Aesthetically, No Longer Home is oddly beautiful. I found the low-poly look charming at first, and it only grew on me from there. The art style really gives the game an even homier, intimate feel to it, allowing you to connect with the characters even more. And it’s used to incredible effect quite frequently; memories will be triggered by conversations or by examining objects from time to time, and the walls of the flat (which is set up rather like a diorama) will slide away in pieces, almost like a theater set being rearranged before your very eyes. The soundtrack is okay; nothing about it really jumps out at you, but it’s not terrible, either.
Hold On to Your Feelings
While charming and excelling at evoking emotion, No Longer Home is not without its flaws. The game felt just a little too short, and I don’t think the demon-y roommates were utilized nearly enough. My other issue is with the strange fractals that you come across. While undeniably beautiful, they felt a bit disjointed with the game overall and I honestly can’t decide if they improved the experience or hindered it. It also felt like whatever was growing beneath the flat was largely ignored in the long run.
A small handful of issues aside, No Longer Home is a unique experience. Somehow ethereal yet substantial, ephemeral yet lasting, remarkable yet mundane, it’s a tiny window into the human experience that leaves you feeling, well, all the feels.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, Xbox One; Publisher: Fellow Traveler; Developer: Humble Grove; Players: 1; Released: October 7th, 2021; ESRB: T for Teen; MSRP: $14.99
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.