The Longing takes 400 days to play. Not like, in-game days, I mean 400 full rotations of our actual real-life planet. The game launched today, so if you make a start right now you should have it finished by Friday 9th April 2021. It’s a sort of adventure/idle game where you look after a Shade trapped underground whose only goal is to wait.
There’s lots of things you can do in the game other than wait, of course, you can explore, make your Shade a little home, paint, or even try to escape if you’re feeling brave. Alice Bee is doing a Diary Of The Longing and, in her most recent entry, she made her poor Shade (who she named Burnsy) trip out on mushrooms.
“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!”
Time will pass in the game even if you’re not playing it, so you don’t need to check in on your Shade every day if you don’t want to. There are some things you can do to speed time up, Alice discovered that just spending time in the Shade’s living room will do that.
I recommend giving these diaries a read if you have a chance. While a game like this doesn’t really appeal to me personally, experiencing it vicariously through Alice’s writing is just as (if not more) entertaining. Here’s a little snippet from her fateful first day:
“A Shade achieves a lot in their first day! Mostly, it consists of walking, and discovering areas we can’t reach yet. The palace halls are a weird mix of ruined grandeur and damp, earthy caves that haven’t enjoyed any renovations at all. Lumps of coal regularly fall from the ceiling with a sad little echoey noise, and I collect them in the hope of making a fire soon. I briefly worry that we might enter a kind of The Descent scenario, encountering Bad Gollums, but that much excitement goes against the principle of the game.”
Apparently, The Longing is based on a real-life German legend, too, the Kyffhäuser legend, in which “a King under a mountain is waiting for the right time to awaken”. You can also read real-life books in-game, drawn from the public domain archives of Project Gutenberg.
The more I hear about this game the more intrigued I become – I can’t wait to hear what happens when someone manages to escape.
If all this has left you longing for The Longing, you can grab it on Steam right now for £13/€15/$15.