No Place Like Home Review (PC)

No Place Like Home Review: Be it ever so humble…

no place like home

Welp, it finally happened — humanity has completely trashed Earth past the point of no return for our continued habitability. Well done, us! Did we really think the Earth was going to be the one to suffer? Of course not — it’ll turn no matter which species live on its surface; it was OURSELVES we needed to save, and now it’s too late for that. At least in this game’s universe, we’re able to abscond away to Mars, which is somehow more habitable than Earth at this point (yeah idk either, if/when it gets this bad in real life… guess we’ll just die).

Ellen Newland has a ticket for the red planet, but before she leaves this once pale blue dot, she had hoped to bid her grandfather farewell; unfortunately, he’s nowhere to be found, which didn’t sit right with the aspiring cosmic refugee. Although it would be in her best interest to leave for redder pastures, something in her heart beckons her to stay…

So begins No Place Like Home, a “Post Apo Farming Simulator” developed by Chicken Launcher and published by Realms Distribution. Available on PC, No Place Like Home asks players to clean, recycle, farm, befriend, craft, explore, and party on their post-apocalyptic homestead, but in like a cute and wholesome way. And with 2 different endings waiting at the end of a series of intricate questlines meant to bring life back to the cradle of humanity, it’d be a safe bet that fans of farm sims would enjoy this upbeat take on an often grim topic — will it pay out?

No Place Like Home

As mentioned earlier, No Place Like Home opens up on Ellen searching for her grandfather back on his farm on Earth. Naturally, he’s nowhere to be found; in his stead are literal mountains of trash. Unable to really do much without clearing the area and setting up shop, Ellen cleans the place up with her trusty vacuum/weapon, sucking up garbage, collecting resources, beating mechanical baddies, and building up her base. It’s dangerous to go alone, however; by her side are farm animals — both talking and the more silent variety — and the occasional NPC on hand to give her quests. By completing the quests her Earthling companions dish out, Ellen inches ever closer to not only her grandfather, but a cleaner, greener Earth. Maybe we’re not past the point of no return after all?

I’m going to cut to the chase — No Place Like Home feels like a mobile game that was ported to PC, or in the very least still an Early Access title. I know firsthand how difficult launches can be (which is why I often like to review titles a week or so after release to wait for a good hotfix or two), but No Place Like Home doesn’t have little issues like some lorem ipsum here or weird spacing there. Instead, it has bigger issues to address that really boil down to a lack of balancing and polish that we might expect to come from a beta title but would hope to put behind us in a full release.

No Place Like Home

There are a couple reasons why I say this: to begin with, the controls are all sorts of clunky, and some odd choices were made for seemingly unintuitive reasons. For example, when running around and trying to suck up garbage, sometimes you’ll need to turn Ellen to face you. If you remove your finger from the “s” button, she’ll snap back automatically to have her back facing you, as if you immediately pressed the “w” key afterwards. This might not seem like the biggest deal, but when trying to place buildings, gather resources, or vacuum garbage two steps behind you it’s a massive pain in the ass. I was only a few seconds in when I realized this was occurring, and after fighting with it for a few minutes I just gave up. I resigned myself to the fact that “it was just gonna be like this” and tried to keep a positive outlook, but when movement is a point of frustration in a third-person farming/exploration game, you know you’re gonna be in for a rough ride.

And you know, I was right — it didn’t just end with movement. No Place Like Home, for all its hemming and hawing about how the Earth has been totally trashed by humans, only takes like 3 IRL days to clean up. No really — that’s how long you’ll need to beat the game. This entire experience is fairly streamlined because there aren’t any romance options or even any truly memorable NPCs, which, when it comes to farming simulators, is like leaving a hole in the middle of a wall of a house you just built. The quests they dish out aren’t all that dissimilar from each other, either, and when you couple that with the weird time gates on recipes and crafting plus the shallow combat mechanics and kind of app-game menu UI, No Place Like Home really gives off mobile game vibes to the point where I thought this was a PC port of a freemium title.

No Place Like Home

Despite all the frustrations I had with No Place Like Home, it does have some redeeming qualities. First, there are some really lovely landscapes, although what you do in them lacks variety from biome to biome. Had the camera controls been a little easier to maneuver, I could see myself enjoying the bucolic pastures after a hard day’s work of clearing trash piles, but alas, it was not meant to be for me. Second, the game flow of cleaning up garbage piles will appeal to players who take great satisfaction in cleaning games like PowerWash Simulator. I could see time ticking away in the top right corner of the screen as I plowed through trash heaps, but I couldn’t resist trying to clear each and every one. “Just one last area, let me clean up one last area…” I’d tell myself as the sun sank into the horizon, the purple and blue skies yielding their twinkling lights. Maybe someone on Mars might look down on Earth and wonder if there was anything to be done for their former home, not knowing that Ellen was literally breezing through trash like the apocalypse was nbd.

Actually, that’s… kinda what I wanted to touch on before closing — No Place Like Home’s approach to the apocalypse, while interesting, felt very at odds with it’s severe backdrop. While I think all doom and gloom does considerable harm in the fight against climate change, erring so far on the other side with talking chickens and cow disco parties may not actually drive home the seriousness of the situation we really find ourselves in. I want to stress that I don’t take this rather subjective opinion into account while scoring (because it is rather subjective), but in light of the most recent news suggesting we only have a few short years to really turn this ship around before the worst climate case scenarios, being able to singlehandedly purify a city’s worth of garbage in 3 days with shallow quests and sassy chickens… wasn’t it. Then again, the ability to actually be able to DO something about climate change was nice. Like I said, subjective — but worth mentioning for those who care about that sort of thing.

No Place Like Home will draw you in with its adorable illustrations and novel premise; for fans of wholesome games, cleaning simulators, and base-building, the allure might actually work like a charm. For everyone else who’s had their eye on this post-apocalyptic farm sim, you may want to give it some time before it’s truly ready for release after a little more polish. I’m confident that, in a few months time, No Place Like Home will be cleaned up and in a much better state to receive players. Until then, keep this on your Wishlist and keep fighting the good fight against climate change to ensure Ellen’s present is as far removed from our future as possible.

Final Verdict: 3/5

Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Realms Distribution; Developer: Chicken Launcher; Players: 1; Released: March 17, 2022; MSRP: $19.99

Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of No Place Like Home provided by the publisher.

Heather Johnson Yu
Born at a very young age; self-made thousandaire. Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things. Covered in cat hair. Probably the best sleeper in the world. Still haven't completed the civil war quest in Skyrim but I'm kind of okay with that. Too rad to be sad.

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