The Longing is an indie point and click game developed by Studio Seufz. Originally released for Windows and Mac, The Longing finally made its way to Nintendo Switch in April 2021. The Longing follows real-world time, and you are presented with a 400 day countdown. Making it one of the slowest games to ever exist. But I couldn’t title it as the most boring at all. Everything takes a lifetime to complete, it’s frustrating yet comical and so incredibly charming in it’s own twisted way.
What are you waiting for?
You are a creature created by the King, of which he kindly refers to as Shade. When everything falls apart and the King becomes weak, it is your role to maintain his safety whilst he rests. But the King’s slumber isn’t exactly what you’d expect. He declares he must rest for 400 days, and on the final one you are to wake him and everything will return to normal. But The Longing doesn’t have an in-game countdown like you’d imagine it to. It follows real world time, so the long 400 day countdown begins.
This countdown however doesn’t exclusively operate when the game is open and running. The countdown continues in the background even when your device is completely idle. But what fun is there in a review if you haven’t actually played the game? Of course, you can just change the time on your Switch to immediately see the end of The Longing, but there’s no fun in that. You have to put yourself through the worst to really see the beauty in such a game.
Slow and steady doesn’t win the race
With over a year to wait, you can imagine The Longing is one of the slowest moving games to ever exist. And it is. Not only do you have to essentially sit and wait for 400 days, but your character moves at a pace unbearable to watch. It’s agonising, but that’s all part of the fun. There are cave systems to ‘explore’ and staircases to spend what feels like hours climbing. Not only that, but your Shade has it’s own home too.
Scarcely decorated, you spend most of your time milling about your little home. There’s not a whole lot to do in there either (unsurprisingly). Your Shade can litter the walls with artistic interpretations of a multitude of things. But if you decide to spend most of your time drawing, make sure you’re going through the cave to pick up bits of coal to restock your stationary. Shade always has something to say about his art as well. The small glimmer of joy it brings him is what keeps you drawing even when you feel like you want to snap your switch over your knee. But that might just be me projecting my own experience.
A real page turner
You’re also given an old armchair, where you can sit and read or just sit and stare into the void. Obviously I tried all available options and sat staring at my screen when I selected sit and stare. Reading is quite an interesting element to the game though. You have a bookshelf with a few titles to choose from, all literary classics. But these are actual books. Like, hundreds of pages long. Which you can just sit and read with Shade. I didn’t realise this until I was about three pages into Moby Dick and then realised I was just reading a whole novel when I was supposed to be finding the point in this game.
So there isn’t a whole lot you can actually do whilst waiting. But you feel almost compelled to since you were given the job to protect the kingdom whilst the King is resting. No matter how hard you try though, there just isn’t enough to do. Which I suppose is what Studio Seufz were after when they set out to create this frustrating ‘walking simulator’. It seems impossible to actually care about getting to the end of The Longing, but because you spend so long waiting you can’t help feeling like you have to. As real world days pass, you’ll find yourself checking to see how many days left to wait, and if anything around you has changed. Things occasionally happen after you’ve been playing for a while, but you have to really test your own will to continue.
Patience is a virtue
Visually The Longing is stunning. The art style is twisted and dark. Caves are massive, the staircases seem never ending, and the detailing on such minor things is what leaves you wanting to explore things you’ve seen one hundred times already. Shade is tiny in comparison to The King, and especially the world you spawn in. Hence why everything takes so long. It runs smoothly, but how hard can that be for a 400 day waiting game.
The Longing is also accompanied by a haunting soundtrack. It’s also very slow to mirror the pace of the game as a whole. But it’s definitely been thought about in extreme detail and that is quite clear. In the King’s chambers you can hear him breathing deeply (which I didn’t expect and when wearing headphones this was a bit of a shock to the system). Shade doesn’t speak, but his text boxes are quite amusing. He appears as very self aware, and also very lethargic. He’s aware there isn’t a whole lot to achieve, but he doesn’t shy away from cracking a joke from time to time.
The Longing is simply a test of patience. Which in a way feels sort of rewarding. Since day to day life is so busy and bustling, having nothing to do and just waiting around feels oddly comforting. Especially following numerous lockdowns during the COVID pandemic. Gaming tends to focus on the fast paced action packed nature of life, so The Longing really throws a spanner in the works here. It’s long, and boring, but you definitely find comfort in your character and not expecting anything to happen each time you log in. I think the reason I can’t say this is the worst game ever is because of how much I resonate with Shade. It’s familiar in a really sad way, and I think Studio Suefz knew this would be the case with most players.