The Longing: A Little Home Improvement

Although gaining access to the library was something I had been looking forward to, it was also a disappointment — and not the collectible kind. 1Recursively, the fact that it isn’t a collectible disappointment is itself a disappointment. The passage to it is one that I had been waiting on in the hope that it would lead to a second mattock. It did not. And so I resorted to hints. I have another mattock now, and have at last expanded the Shade’s home to include two more floors, a mushroom growing area, a shower, and a lot more wall space for displaying his artwork. This is the “decorate your dollhouse” aspect of the game. I haven’t quite maximized the place’s potential, though, because he still doesn’t have a bed. Until I can find more wood, he’s just going to have to keep on falling asleep huddled on the cold cave floor.

For once, I’m glad I got hints when I did. The second mattock is really the first you have the opportunity to access, but it’s locked behind a puzzle, and that puzzle is in part a UI puzzle: in this game, you generally perform actions by pressing a button in response to a prompt, and it’s easy to get used to the idea that that is the only means you have to make stuff happen, but in this particular case there is no prompt, and you make stuff happen just by standing in the right place for several minutes. It seems clear to me that the idea behind the design was “We’ll give them this puzzle, and if they either don’t solve it or break the mattock, we’ve got a backup mattock that they just have to wait a week for”. But I had gotten the backup mattock first, and then broken it, and didn’t have a “just wait a week” alternative to wait for from that point. It’s easy to imagine what would happen if I didn’t look for hints at this point: I’d eventually get a third mattock when it becomes available in the endgame, and finally get the ability to play the game for real after missing out for the bulk of its running time. And it would make me cross, and I would complain.

Really, this is a game best enjoyed with a modicum of hintage, not a game to be played in complete isolation — which is a little ironic, given its content.

1 Recursively, the fact that it isn’t a collectible disappointment is itself a disappointment.

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