A COUPLE of weeks ago, I published my first impressions for No Place Like Home. I was naturally drawn to this farming simulator, and I loved the concept of it having a post-apocalyptic setting. However, my concerns were that it lacked the satisfaction and rewards that come from your typical cosy farming sims. So how did it play after sinking more hours into the game? Read on!
No Place Like Home, developed by Chicken Launcher and published by Realms Distribution, is set in the future where almost everyone on Earth has moved to Mars for a new life. You play as Ellen Newland, who finds out her grandpa is missing, and his farm has been completely destroyed. While looking for grandpa, you rebuild the farm, rescue its missing animals and meet members of the community as you explore. This is all done while clearing and cleaning the environment that has been overrun by trash. I need to note that after reflecting on my initial notes from my preview, Chicken Launcher has provided numerous updates that have added and fixed elements of the game I had earmarked for criticism from the preview – a real credit to the team for really taking on player feedback. The game has a cute art style and the world quite easy to get lost in (in a fun way!), and now it has launched, I’m looking forward to seeing how much more this title grows and expands.
My first reaction to No Place Like Home when previewing it was initially one of frustration – I was thrown immediately into a tutorial made up of images on signposts teaching the mechanics of the game. For the release version, developers have now added a short, animated intro first that introduces you to Ellen and the world, so I am happy that those picking up the game for the first time will have a better first impression. While the tutorial section has been updated slightly, I do think it can be more involved in the way it teaches its core mechanics to the player and some of my disappointment about how the mechanics are taught lingered throughout my time playing. While I figured out some mechanics on my own, I do still think about the potential it has in being more accessible to new and/or younger gamers.
The post-apocalyptic setting is cleverly used in No Place Like Home’s mechanics, as the rubbish that you recycle become crafting materials used to construct different items. You have a drill you can upgrade and use to break down large mounds of rubbish, and a vacuum to easily collect the materials. It was pretty satisfying to clear out large areas of rubbish and see a vibrant, clear area around you. You won’t be short of resources as there is trash almost everywhere you go, however I did find it became a little tedious to drill through so much in one go. In saying this, No Place Like Home does break up the drilling process with having some small insect-like robots lurking around to fight. I didn’t find the combat too challenging as I generally managed to fend off a single robot with a few mouse clicks, but if you encounter a few together in a very cramped area, things can start to get tricky.
As you clear out the farm, you make an abundance of room to make way for items to help progress in the game. For example, you can create pens for different animals, areas to start planting crops, and craft machines that will create a variety of different items. The more you explore the area outside grandpa’s farm, the more characters, materials and animals you’ll discover along the way. One of my favourite updates brought out included fast travelling – thank God this was included! Especially if your inventory starts to fill as quickly, it made playing the game so much more relaxing knowing you can jump between locations to get quests done quicker.
If I was to have one complaint about the game, it would probably be a lack of endearing characters. Interesting personalities of NPCs in a genre like this add to the cosy world-building, but unfortunately the characters in No Place Like Home feel a little flat. I enjoyed chatting with Cornelious the chicken more than some of the humans I have met along the way. Audio-wise, I found the game’s music upbeat and relaxing, if not sometimes being a tad repetitive.
If you’re not about that quest life and/or just want to enjoy the farming and customisation aspects, No Place Like Home has a creative mode. Everything is free and fully available through its crafting stations – the only limits here are your imagination. One of the funniest examples the developers mentioned was being able to spawn as many animals as you wish. You can also skip days if you’re feeling impatient and don’t want to wait around for your crops to grow.
The game definitely rewards the player with vibrant visuals once you’ve cleared out its many different areas on its map. It’s such a nice contrast compared to discovering the rubbish-ridden mess of a new location.
What I found with the fixes and updates that No Place Like Home had leading up to launch was that it really improved on its weak elements that deterred it from being the game it is now. While the game can still feel a little tedious now and again, I’m confident in the upcoming support the game will continue to receive post-launch.
If you’re looking for a new cosy farming simulator to kick back with, check out No Place Like Home, out now on Steam.