The Longing is in These Lists
In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to The Longing in the following lists:
Surviving in games is often a key element. Some games, however, make it the main focus. With minimal resources and little light can you make it through to the morning? Can you prepare a shelter as the daylight dwindles in time for you to cope with the lurking creatures of the dark?
Whether this is as simple as closing the door to keep the zombies out in Minecraft
or as complex as crafting food, clothing and medicine to cope with the freezing blackness of The Long Dark
, these games are exhilarating as they pose a strategic puzzle with personal consequences.
Many of these games offer an open world in which to survive, which opens up more ways of preparing for and then making it through the night time. This, of course, leads to another day where you need to spend time and resources wisely while exploring your surroundings.
In a culture that often assumes that the route to happiness is with another person, it can benefit us to acknowledge that being alone is not always a bad thing. We teamed up with Courtney Garcia’s Screen Therapy channel
to curate a list of games that give us a chance to experience being alone in different ways.
Garcia’s Screen Therapy
project employs Positive Media Psychology research to highlight and interpret meaningful experiences with games and movies. “With mindfulness, there are even more benefits to gain from intentional consumption of media,” she says, “games can be tools we use to recover or grow, psychologically, and our time with them isn't wasted if they provide us insights or rest we need.”
This list was inspired by the experience of playing the unusually solitary (and long) game The Longing
and the Twitter thread
that followed. In it, you spend 400 elapsed days waiting for the King to wake up and living at a slow pace. The other games offer their own lens on loneliness and solitary seasons of life. These games offer us insight into the benefits of appreciating time alone, such as opportunities for self-reflection, self-discovery, and the chance to curate enriching experiences or environments for ourselves.
Some of the games, like Never Alone
and The Long Dark
place you in a harsh environment that emphasises your diminutive size when faced with the expanse of nature. Other games in the list, like Thomas Was Alone
and Bird Alone
offer you the chance to reflect on friendship and the need to nurture relationships. Then there are games we included like Shadow of the Colossus
that let you get lost in the vastness of its landscape. Finally, a few of the games like The First Tree
invite you to make a connection to other players, once you have come to terms with a journey on your own.
All games offer you agency. You can win or lose. You can complete them or stop at any time. But there are some games that offer a story that genuinely branches. Where you end up will be different from other players. This not only makes your actions really matter but also gives you a reason to play them again.
Setting aside games that evolve through simulation, or games where once you die it's game over, these branching narrative games tell a story that ends in a certain way because of the choices you made.
Video games are usually thought to be about fighting, shooting and adrenaline. As regular readers will know, there are video games about everything. Recently I've been noticing games that combine the stewardship of the land and the nurturing of resources.
These games, like Animal Crossing
, present an "ambience of bucolic" and a "reassuring mix of the pastoral and the industrial," wrote Simon Parkin
recently. They offer an escape to simpler times, that provides meaningful work along with the possibility of also working at friendships.
The games collected in this list each offer the chance to escape and absorb yourself tending to a plot of land and nurturing often surprisingly moving relationships. Whether you are diligently cleaning someone's empty flat as in Sunset
, setting up a farm after retiring from your adventures in Littlewood
, reconnecting with grown-up children in The Stillness of The Wind
, nurturing a musical garden in Mutazione
, establishing a coffee shop in Coffee Talk
or even eeking out provisions while you care for children in This War Of Mine
all these games have something to tend to and people to get to know while you do it.
Video games are often thought to be about the quick hit or instant rush of dopamine gratification. In fact, many video games take a long time before they are enjoyable. It takes patience and investment of effort to start making an impact in the game world, and in many ways is actually hard, slow work.
Some games double down on this mechanic, using, as Brad Gallaway recently said "using the real passage of time passing as a way to progress the story or game mechanics. Without cheating a system's clock, they're meant to play out over long periods. Seaman was something like a month, and The Longing can be as much as 400 days."
The games in this list are designed to be played slowly over a large number of days. This includes games like Animal Crossing
, which requires regular visits at particular times of day to progress your island. But it also includes games like The Longing
, that test the player's willingness to wait long periods of time and limit their ability to accelerate progress. Or there are games you can play quickly, but require the real passage of time for certain aspects, like Nier Replicant, forcing you to wait 24 real hours between planting a crop and harvesting it
Games include interactions, narratives and characters dealing with all aspects of life (and death). This means that some care is necessary if players are sensitive to losing significant people. But also, games can provide a helpful space in which to process, consider and understand death and loss.
I've come up with some games that explore this topic, along with help and suggestions from Gaming The Mind
), an organisation of UK-based mental health professionals who aim to promote positive mental health within the gaming community. By focusing on the intersection between gaming and mental health, they want to raise awareness of mental health challenges and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues.
"We express grief in different ways depending on our age," they said. "To help children cope with loss, it is important that they receive honest explanations about death, appropriate to their level of understanding. With these games, players may find valuable space in which to acknowledge grief as a completely normal reaction to bereavement."
"The games we have selected don't necessarily offer an ideal way to cope with death but tackle the topic of death openly and with a positive attitude. They can help show the player that they are not alone in what they are going through. Playing these games with young people, and answering questions they might have along the way, can be a useful starting point for important conversations about grief."
Video games create spaces for us to go and play. These spaces are sometimes an escape from the real world. Equally, games can help us revel and celebrate the real world.
This is a list of games that take us into the long dark months. Shorter days and long nights speak of hibernation and survival. Snow and bare branches suggest that all life has left forever.
Whether they task us with resisting this or getting lost in the dark folds of winter, games of this month are a valuable reminder that life continues (often unseen) where it seems almost impossible. With the faintest foolish hope of a tiny bud read for spring.
In a culture that holds up youth as an ideal rather than a stage of life, it can be hard to embrace our ageing lives, bodies and dreams. The games in this list offer a chance to step into the shoes of older protagonists as well as spend time with people coming to terms with the ticking clock themselves.
Time in video games is a valuable thing. Unlike in the real world where it proceeds in a linear fashion, in a game it may speed up, slow down or even go backwards. There are some games where controlling time becomes a crucial and fascinating game mechanic. The best of these integrate your time travelling powers with both characters and narrative to create a compelling experience.
Video games create fantasy space in which we play. These are often enjoyable because they are an escape from everyday life. Some, however, want to become a part of our day. One way they do this is to make things happen in the game in accordance with the time (and sometimes date) in the real world.
This can be games like The Longing
or Animal Crossing
that tie events in the game with the passing of real world time. Maybe you have to wait for a certain number of hours, or maybe you need to come back at a certain time of day. Either way, your in-game play is linked to the real world by the hands of time.
Other games use the real clock to reward you for not playing. Neo: The World Ends with you
for example, offers certain types of pins (upgrades) that level up the longer the game has been off. Games like Pokemon
have creatures that change form based on the season on your DS clock. Cozy Grove
is synced to real world time, and provides 30-60 minutes of new quest content each day.Mario Party 6
has certain mini-games and game boards that are different in day and night. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's
start-up screen varies depending on the time of day you were playing. In Simpsons Hit and Run
, during Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year in the real world you get game characters dressed up in a special outfit. Simpsons Hit and Run
also has a different start screen depending on whether it's Christmas or another holiday. Finally, how about Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP
that uses the real world lunar cycle so that certain puzzles can only be completed during a full moon, and other elements only during a new moon.
This is a novel thing for games to do. It's also quite useful for families as it means you are usually limited in what you can do in a game in any one day. These games encourage players to pop in for 30 minutes or do, do their tasks for the day, and then leave until tomorrow.