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9

Making strange friends and tripping on mushrooms in The Longing

Going underground

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We return to the dark, dank caverns of the underground, where A Shade faithfully waits, for 400 days, for their king to wake. If you need to catch up, The Longing is a game that takes approximately 400 days to play. You control A Shade, a little inkblot of a creature living deep in the ground. Although they are currently a devoted servant to the aforementioned King, I am willing them to become a republican. In the interval since my last (and first) entry about The Longing, the game has gained a release date! Soon – on March 5th, in fact – you’ll be able to embark on this solemn, slow journey yourself. I promise it is actually very rewarding.


Predictably, my own journey with The Longing has slowed down a bit. The post-Christmas parade of empty days has become the post-post-Christmas carnival of work, which means I have less time to spend very slowly exploring caverns collecting coal. But we still have our list of goals to work on, as well as the ultimate goal of escaping to the surface.

Make A Shade’s Life Less Awful

  • Get all the colours for A Shade’s art
  • Find the palace library
  • Make a bed
  • Find all the bits of the broken flute thing
  • Get better at playing the flute thing
  • Find flint to make a fire
  • Find a mattock, allowing A Shade to perform various QOL tasks
  • Enlarge A Shade’s home
  • Enter the second level of the mine
  • Mine crystals and minerals for decoration

Spoilers follow, so beware – although I’m still avoiding specifics on how some puzzles are solved or different areas found.

January 14th, 2020


Further to the suggestions in the comments of the last entry, I have decided that A Shade’s new name is Burnsy, since, as was pointed out, they look a bit like Mr. Burns off of the Simpsons. But also I think they’re made of coal, so there is a pleasing thought symmetry to Burnsy.

Last night I spent some time getting Burnsy to further enlarge their home. They now have a mushroom garden, space for a bathroom of sorts (sourcing running water somehow has, therefore, become a goal), and a little more space for a bedroom. We need the materials for a bed asap.

Today Burnsy ate a kind of mushroom that made them have a hallucinogenic trip/vision quest. They saw an old man and a young, red-haired child with a tail, raising water from a well on the surface. This is, I’m sure, a clue to help Burnsy in their escape!

I decided that we had gotten distracted by too much home improvement. Escape is our ultimate goal, after all. So, Burnsy went back to where good old friend spider was building a web, and found they could climb up it! In the higher reaches of the caves they found lovely crops of glowing mushrooms. It was a bit of a maze up there, and it’ll require careful plotting and navigation. Burnsy also found an area of tunnel that could be enlarged, underneath a crop of green mushrooms. I worry that the mattock might break in doing so, but what else can we use it for, if not digging?

January 15th, 2020

Burnsy hit granite after only a few scrapes. The poor thing has been lying in a cave all night. Feeling disgraced, I sent them home to start a fire and warm up.

January 22nd, 2020

I have been very busy, so Burnsy has been lightly neglected. But when I booted the game up there they were, sitting on the armchair with their legs sticking out like a toddler’s on a booster seat.

I figured that, since a lot of days had passed in the game at this point, the friendly drip would have filled up that hole in the ground that was stopping Burnsy travelling down a corridor (near where all the moss was growing). Burnsy headed over and discovered that this was true! They thanked the little drip for filling up the hole, and my heart broke.

It turned out this was the back entrance to the library! Success!

Unfortunately, while I was hoping there would be some broken wooden shelves to turn into a bed, there was nothing but dust. And a few books, left on the (mostly empty) shelves. Burnsy ambled back home with them – books are their most favourite thing – and was able to read the second chapter of Thus Spake Tharathustra, next to another nice warm fire.

Also, I noticed that all the dates in the last entry read ‘2019’ so I snuck back and changed them before anyone realised.

February 10th, 2020

Errrr. Whoops.

I have been neglecting Burnsy a shocking amount, it turns out, but they seemed happy enough having finished Thus Spake Zarathustra’s second volume. Today I decided to do a lot of things, to make up for it.

I have been exchanging messages with Reb Valentine, staff writer at GI.biz, who is much further along than me (on account of actually playing the game).

She is in the US, so our messages pass each other like notes in bottles set adrift on the ocean of differing time zones. “Please tell me when you get past a certain mushroom puzzle,” she said. “I very badly need to get some feelings out about this game.”

Every time Burnsy walks past the feet of the sleeping king, there is an option to wake him. I don’t know what would happen if I took that option. Maybe he won’t wake. Maybe that is one of the endings of the game. Maybe Burnsy will be punished most terribly. Nevertheless, I am tempted, every single time.

Burnsy returned to the caves above friend spider, and did more exploring. They found several promising tunnels, but all hit bedrock after a few minutes. One, though, joined up to another tunnel, which lead to another impassable cliff. I think this may be “the mushroom puzzle” but am not sure.

On the way back, Burnsy chipped off a lonely pink crystal in the upper caves and brought it home, because they didn’t want it to be lonely. The little home is very nice now. But that means time ticks down even faster, and we’re running out of it.

Today Burnsy encountered some green mushrooms, and wondered aloud if they were as nice to eat as the purple-pink ones. They were not. They made Burnsy sick. But I kept compulsively making Burnsy eat the green mushrooms whenever they encountered one, because I thought it might make something happen. What is wrong with me??

February 11th, 2020


I won’t be able to play tomorrow, or the next few days, ‘cos I’m away on a trip. I tried to make the most of what time I had today. Burnsy went back to the impassable cliff they discovered yesterday, and found it was still impassable. They poked around the upper caves a bit more and found one of the green mushrooms had grown gigantic. I wanted to harvest it, but the only interaction available was with the Mattock. In an out of character turn, Burnsy called the mushroom an abomination and splatted it. It was a bit of a shock, to be honest. Usually they try to make friends with inanimate objects. I feel pretty sure I’m on the right track with “the mushroom puzzle” though.

Skulking around the upper caves meant I got a lot of time to listen to what I have internally called The Mushroom Chorus. Similar to when Burnsy found the white crystal waterfall, the caves full of glowing mushrooms fill the air with an ethereal music. It has a kind of eldritch fantasy flair, but is synthy enough that it could also fit in a retro space film from the 60s. It’s lovely, and it starts to fade in before you even see the mushies, which makes it seem like the fungus itself is singing. Properly magic.

Today I also remembered the face in the wall. I may have judged it too harshly before, because it turns out I was able to trade some of Burnsy’s disappointments and a lot of moss for some cryptic advice. A weight off my shoulders – and Burnsy’s, probably.

It was ultimately, however, not massively helpful. So Burnsy stole the blue crystals on either side of the face. This took a long time, but was very satisfying.

Today, though we have made progress, felt a bit grim. Burnsy still doesn’t have yellow to draw with. I can’t see a way to get into the second level of the mine. And the surface seems very far away. Plus we’re running out of coal. The way is shut. But we shall persevere, and open it.


Make A Shade’s Life Less Awful

  • Get all the colours for A Shade’s art
  • Find the palace library
  • Make a bed
  • Source running water for a bathroom
  • Find all the bits of the broken flute thing
  • Get better at playing the flute thing – in progress
  • Find flint to make a fire
  • Find a mattock, allowing A Shade to perform various QOL tasks
  • Enlarge A Shade’s home
  • Enter the second level of the mine
  • Mine crystals and minerals for decoration – in progress
  • Solve the mushroom puzzle

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Alice Bell

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