There are few things that are more personal than moving houses. Your desk, your bed, that awesome video game poster hanging above your monitor, there is so much attachment to how you keep your room and there’s a sense of security in what you are used to, especially if you’ve lived in the building for a long time. But, the relationships you make are even more heart wrenching when you have to leave them behind. No Longer Home perfectly portrays this feeling of restlessness and while moving house, it’s hard not to think of the future. While mundane, No Longer Home dips into this uncertain part of life that can be sad, exciting, and nerve-wracking all at the same time.
you’ve graduated. Now what?
The overall story is focused on the two main protagonists Bo and Ao, who are leaving their London apartment after graduating from university. There is a sense of unease between the partners as one has to fly back to Japan, while the other stays in England. Neither knows what their future is going to be, and No Longer Home does an excellent job of representing the uncertainty of post-uni life. Identity, leaving loved ones behind, and becoming an “adult” with a “proper job” are key themes of this game, while both Bo and Ao figure out who they want to be. There’s so much doubt sown throughout, making this No Longer Home incredibly relatable. Perhaps, it will make others who put down students as being lazy see differently as they gain a new perspective from this work. That’s the beauty of games like this; they can widen your worldview and illustrate the struggles others deal with. I’m not gender-fluid, but from my perspective, the writing appears to be a positive gender representation.
Furthermore, the writing is beautifully written with authentic lines that lift off the screen. It personally made me emotional while playing the game as I’ve left my university friends in Edmonton, Canada, and constantly feel as if I’ve been forgotten. I also felt so panicked after graduating as I was so unsure if journalism was the right path for me. I’m sure you have a similar story and that the game will instantly click with you as it did me. It instantly clicked with me from the get-go. The British-isms and the genuine dialogue really work in No Longer Home. On narrative alone, it’s well worth picking up.
the belongings aren’t compelling
No Longer Home plays like a point-and-click adventure. You’re going from room to room, finding out bits and pieces about Bo and Ao’s lives. Conversations play similarly to visual novels with multiple conversation trees. While they don’t affect the narrative in a sense, you’ll learn about this game’s characters if you choose different conversational topics with multiple playthroughs.
Personally, for me, the visual novel aspects are stronger than the exploration. The objects that Bo and Ao interact with aren’t that interesting most of the time. In a game like Life is Strange, Max has a witty line or some sort of intriguing introspective note. In No Longer Home, I didn’t feel compelled to pick up or look at items as the dialogue was typically dull. There are some elements that work though. Interacting with their cats offered some interesting introspective moments I was looking for, but overall, this part of the game faltered. I just wanted to get into the visual novel segments. In addition, the time it takes to cut between dialogue and the point-and-click gameplay is way too long as it awkwardly pans out in a slow manner.
a Rotating theater
Stylistically, No Longer Home is compelling. It is set up like a theater stage with belongings and the apartment as the set. You’re playing in a small space on the screen as the stage is in the middle of space. It’s a cool metaphor as it reinforces that Bo and Ao are two small people in a huge universe. They address this in the prologue scene. What makes the graphical style even better is that you can twist the perspective to four different angles. It’s a lot like Fez as when you turn the room, you can see more objects. It’s a neat touch that adds so much graphical depth to the game. The simplistic art style matches well with the environment and allows you to insert yourself into the situation.
Something else to mention is how each scene is transitioned. Like a theatre pulling back the curtains, No Longer Home has an imaginative set as it highlights the visuals and sounds of the city around them. There is one particular scene where Bo and Ao talk to each other in bed. It’s a memorable conversation matched with a stunning night sky and impeccable audio work.
An emotional goodbye
Additionally, the sound design will really draw you in. The sound of traffic in a busy London neighborhood, the purring of the cat, and the treading of feet on a wooden floor, all help deliver an impressive experience. One particular part was when music is being played outside during a barbeque party. Outside, it’s loud, but as you get further inside the apartment, the music starts fading away. That’s a neat detail. Talking about the music, it absolutely nails the tone that the developers are going for. It’s not a sweeping orchestral drama, it’s more down-to-earth. The subtle piano notes, guitar, and synths are stirring and go hand-in-hand with the writing. It’s a melancholy feeling to leave your apartment (and your friends behind), and Eli Rainsberry alongside Derek Daley and Paws Menu handled the source material excellently.
No Longer Home needs to be played with headphones.
No Longer Home, inspired by the story of Hana Lee and Cel Davison’s real-life experiences, feels so human, so heartwrenching, and so effective. The story is wonderfully told, and the words noted in the game are emotionally powerful. While the game lacks interesting objects to interact with, the visual novel elements, and the gorgeous artistic leaps Lee created for the game, and the sound production more than makes up for it. Experience this if you have an hour or two to spare.
Review code provided by the publisher.