“This land pulses with life. It breathes in me; it breathes around me; it breathes in spite of me. When I walk on this land, I am walking on the heartbeat of the past and the future. And that’s only one of the reasons I am a farmer.” – Brenda Sutton Rose
No Place Like Home is a casual farming sim set in a post-apocalyptic world full of trash. Players take on the role of Ellen and must recycle and rebuild in order to restore the family farm to its former glory complete with happy animals and plentiful crops!
Developer: Chicken Launcher
Released: 23rd December 2020 (early access), 17th March 2022 (full release)
Available on: Steam
No Place Like Home sees players clearing the world of trash in order to recycle it and rebuild the farm. It has a casual feel overall and sits somewhere between linear and open-world giving players lots of opportunity to explore whilst also providing plenty of guidance and direction. Despite the mountain of trash to clear, the plethora of available tasks, vast map with distinct biomes such as frosty, luscious or desert, not to mention enemies, it actually manages to be a really relaxing timesink.
Ellen’s main tool is a drill, but this is also equipped with a very powerful vacuum cleaner and a water tank. What this means is that she can drill, use suction to collect trash and refill the water tank, spray water and bash things with the drill. There are also upgrades available that allow ellen to drill through different materials as she breaks apart piles of garbage. The game begins with a short tutorial and then eases the player into the rest of the fairly intuitive mechanics with instructional quests that progress in chapters. There are also in-game achievements with rewards.
Besides recyclable piles of trash, other items can be found whilst clearing rubbish such as seeds, wood, rubble, and even novelty items such as animal accessories. These things can be used to help with instrumental tasks such as growing crops including tomatoes, pumpkins and wheat as well as building farm buildings and objects. The wood and rubble are important for building and players will find they need to create animal housing, workbenches and a kitchen amongst other things. Recipes and building upgrades must be bought from different traders that are scattered across the world, they must then be crafted at the farm using the required materials and finally placed.
One of the jolliest parts of the game is helping, befriending and caring for various animals. Once living on the farm they will provide resources, for example, chickens provide eggs and pigs find truffles daily and every day they must be washed or fed alternately. They can also be named, petted and adorned with charming little hats that are found in the trash. On the less jolly side of things, players will encounter a selection of robotic enemies amongst the trash, especially in caves and buildings that can be found. These can be damaged both by spraying water and by using the drill to hit them. Death is mostly unpunishing though and will simply return the player home and start a new day.
Crops need to be planted and watered daily, though skipping a day will not punish players beyond the plant not growing that day. Food can be used in a variety of ways. It can be crafted into different meals or pet food using recipes that need to be found and collected. These meals can provide benefits such as a health or speed boost and can be very handy when exploring and encountering enemies. However, death is mostly unpunishing and will simply return the player home and start a new day. Food can also be used to create preserved meals in jars that act as currency when interacting with vendors. Preserving created meals rather than raw crops will yield more currency.
Narrative and Styling
Whilst the narrative elements of No Place Like Home are not the game’s focus there is a bit of backstory to provide context and an extra layer of enjoyment for the player. Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which most of the planet has migrated to Mars, those who remain must deal with robotic enemies and trash storms. Amongst them is Ellen Newland, a young girl tasked with taking care of her grandfather’s farm while he embarks on a mysterious quest. The few NPCs that exist within the game all have their own personalities and a bit of history which is a nice addition to the limited narrative.
No Place Like Home has a vibrant 3D art style, slightly cartoony and very colourful for the most part. There are some more painterly style illustrations that feature in the menus and UI that have a much softer aesthetic. Overall, the visuals are pleasing and the general cuteness helps give the game its very wholesome feel.
The music is very relaxing and very upbeat, it has a bit of a Sims feel to it, however, it sits comfortably in the background and does not get intrusive or too repetitive, despite the lack of variety. This suits the game well and really enhances the cheerful visuals and casual nature of the game. The sound effects are very nicely implemented, though more variety would be nice here. Hearing the different animals happily making noises such as the chickens clucking or squawking is a real delight and again, adds to the jolliness of the whole experience.
Overall, No Place Like Home is a fantastic farming sim and a really relaxing and casual experience because, despite its demands, it remains optimistic and unpunishing. The aesthetics are colourful and upbeat, matching the tone of the gameplay and the animal interactions especially are just adorable. The map is sizable and there are lots of crafting and farming opportunities to work towards meaning it has plenty of content and different things to attain and build. This game could appeal to players looking for something to spend just ten hours or much longer in-game, it is especially good for newcomers to the genre, or those looking for a more light-hearted farming sim and I highly recommend it.
For more cute simulators and building games check out these reviews:
Haven Park: Play as a Chicken in this Cute New Building Game! – Luna’s Fishing Garden: A Delightful New Fishing and Building Game – Hive Time Review – Buzzy Management!