Which is the Game that Lasts the Longest

After answering the question of which is the most expensive game in the world, we now want to satisfy another videogame curiosity: have you ever wondered which is the game that lasts the longest?

Leaving aside all those games that base their longevity on their multiplayer sector (which are, basically, infinite), we went looking for the video game with the most lasting history. It is an indie that far exceeds the longest-running famous games, such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Divinity Original Sin, which all settle between 50 and 70 hours of game; or titles like Minecraft or ARK: Survival Evolved, which take over 100 hours to “complete”.

We are talking about The Longing, an absolutely sui generis game that bases the entire gaming experience on waiting, a wait of 9600 hours, or 400 days. This sort of videogame experiment asks the player to wait patiently for the awakening of an ancient “king under the mountain”, exploring the underground kingdom full of caves, secret lakes and mysteries to be revealed. All to keep busy and pass the time: a never-before-seen main story approach in a single player context that makes waiting the game itself.

Fortunately, the time in the game continues to flow even when you are not playing, this does not mean, however, that to find out what happens in the end you will have to pass all the 400 days, unless you go back to the surface (which takes about two weeks) and leave the kingdom. Now that you know which video game is the longest, do you want to know which video game is the most played?

It is said that in the depths of the caves under the castle of Kyffhäuser, in Germany, King Frederick Barbarossa rests waiting to awaken. He sits motionless on his stone bench, his beard has become so long that it completely embraces the marble table in front of him. Only when his land needs him will he awaken again, rising from the secret caves in which he is locked up to help his people. Imagine that this myth of Germanic folklore serves as the basis for a game in which, in the role of a faithful servant, one is forced to wait for a very long time for the awakening of one’s master.

Think about it and you will have The Longing in your head, an idle game (literally, an “inactive game”) in which the only way to achieve your goal is to wait for four hundred days. Real. The encounter with the project – in development since 2014 – inside the Indie Village of Gamescom allowed us to see this brilliant concept to the test, which ardently challenges all those hyperactive productions, based on the incessant repetition of actions oriented to fast and bulimic consumption.

The King under the Mountain
It cannot be denied that the concept of The Longing is at least bizarre, difficult to tell without giving the impression of being praising a crazy operation, designed exclusively to enhance the strange visions of its creator. True, Studio Seufz’s game is a white fly able to stand out almost only for its absurdity, but you would be making a big mistake if you avoided talking about how much and how The Longing wants to criticize the current world of video games (and not only), its unbridled and unsustainable rhythms, the exaltation of vigor, speed, quantity.

The title borrows the structure of idle games like Clicker Heroes, but turns it into something profoundly different. Think for example of the mobile market and how many games based on waiting there are: there are hundreds of them, some that ask us to make some interactions and then come back the following day, others for which it is necessary to wait days before an operation complete. Their goal is to drag the user into a virtually infinite spiral of “tasks”, to enter his daily routine, create addiction, transform insignificant and repetitive gestures into something indispensable, even fun. The Longing does the exact opposite, that is, it promotes all those characteristics that are never contemplated when you want to create the recipe for a virtual “drug”. The Longing is slow, exhausting, ponderous. To climb a flight of stairs, the character (a small “shadow”) takes minutes. Moving from one room to another takes an incredible amount of time, so much so that there is an automatic move function that relieves the user of having to hold down the left mouse button.

It is such an extreme experience that the only possible reactions in front of it are to be fascinated by the splendid art design, by the dungeon synth music and by the very staid rhythms; or to close the software with an easy double click.
The long waiting time that one is forced to endure before the king’s awakening (four hundred days) still runs even when the game is inactive.

You can therefore leave it in a corner for a month and then reopen it to see how the situation is. Yes, because the world of The Longing is not static: the various caves host underground lakes that gradually fill up with the trickle of stalactites, moss grows on the rocks and spiders patiently weave their webs. These elements can serve the main character to overcome a previously obstructed landscape or to solve puzzles, which, according to the director of the project Anselm Pyta, are present in good number.

There is also a “trick” to reduce the wait: if the player adorns the protagonist’s room with paintings and artifacts hidden inside the caves, his perception of the passage of time changes.

This translates playfully into the acceleration of the countdown, which increases more and more according to the number of objects found. Finally, in the room you can access a rich library that includes some famous literary works now without copyright: there is Homer’s Iliad, Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche, Moby Dick by Melville and a series of other volumes in full but unfortunately only in English. Before leaving we asked Pyta if there was a method to speed up the passage of time even more: the answer was negative, but there is an alternative to waiting. In fact, you can decide to climb, with difficulty, through a very long maze of tunnels that lead to the surface and thus abandon your king.  A not very honorable choice, of course, but which leads to a conclusion in “just” two weeks. Real, of course.

Reviewer overview

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