The Longing (by Studio Seufz, 2020) is one of those games that are hard to describe with words – you have to experience it by yourself and immerse yourself in it. The premise, however, is simple. You are a little elf living underground and your only task is this: Wait for 400 days and when the time is up, wake the king that is sleeping under the mountain. This setup goes back to a German folktale, called the Kyffhäuser legend.
The premise is simple: Wait for 400 days and when the time is up, wake the king that is sleeping under the mountain.
What makes the game unique is neither the story nor the mechanics, but how it deals with time: The 400 days are ticking down in real time, even if you are not playing. In theory, you can start the game and not play it for 400 days, come back and finish it. As the game is progressing by itself with no other goals besides waiting, it gives you the freedom to decide, how much time you would like to spend and how.
You can stay in your small virtual home and spend the whole game reading Moby Dick or Thus Spoke Zarathustra, both – among other classics – included in full length. You can practice drawing or sit in your armchair and watch the fire; or you could venture out into the beautifully hand-drawn caves and explore what is out there.
At the start of the game, the possibilities felt almost endless and it was pure joy to explore what the game had to offer.
In contrast to other games the pace of The Longing is painfully slow. There is no way to speed the little elf up – and no reason to, because there is no hurry. After all, you got 400 days to do everything you like. Or nothing at all. Once you are used to taking things slowly, playing can be quite a relaxing experience.
If this sounds interesting to you, I would very much recommend not to watch any streams, screenshots or trailers and just start playing. The Longing awakened a feeling I hadn’t had for a long time: At the start of the game, the possibilities felt almost endless and it was pure joy to explore what the game had to offer. If you can, take someone on your journey with you. The game is so much more fun, if you have someone to share all those beautiful little moments with.
This article is an extended version of the Indie Gem Corner section in our monthly newsletter, The Narrative Outlook. If you are interested in fresh news on narrative games and what our studio is up to, feel free to subscribe right on our website. If you would like to play this month’s indie gem, head over to the game’s website. Don’t forget to tell us about your favorite story from The Longing on our Discord.