Need some help navigating the caves in The Longing as a newly created Shade?
There is a lot that goes into experiencing this unique real-time game that feels like a cross between classic adventure games and a life simulator game like Tamagotchi, with a sprinkle of an idle game. I spent much of my time with the Shade just watching him wander the halls and extensive caves of his home. You should go into this game as blind as possible for the best experience. But if you need help, we’ve got answers to the most commonly asked questions about The Longing and good Switch tips.
This guide is a spoiler-free answer session for some of the questions you may have about The Longing before starting your first play-through. First, let’s answer some quick questions about how time works in the game. You don’t need to play the game for 9,600 hours, there are things you can find that makes the time go faster.
The Longing Switch Tips
Can I open the game once and come back in 400 days to see the ending?
Will I miss the ending if I don’t come back in exactly 400 days?
No, waking the king is an action that requires the player to activate.
Can I miss content if I don’t play that day (like Animal Crossing?)
Yes, you can miss your birthday as a Shade. That day is important for reasons outlined below.
How many endings are there?
There are five different endings to the game, each with its different trigger conditions. I won’t be going over the endings in this guide, as you’re encouraged to go in as blind as possible for your first play-through.
Controlling the Shade
The Shade cannot run. You can move the right analog stick and double tap A to walk to that point. You can also press Y to open the Memories menu. Here you can remember important locations and the Shade can automatically walk there later. To remember a location, select a square with the analog stick then press A. A successful memory will show a picture in the square.
About the King
The player is tasked by the king with waiting for 400 days to awaken him after his slumber and never to leave the caves. Those are the only instructions given to the Shade at the beginning of the game. If you try to awaken the king early, the Shade will remind the player to wait out the timer. Sometimes the shade will mention the king not liking him exploring.
Don’t worry about angering him through exploring the caves, they are free-roaming. Later on, you may be presented with a choice that will directly defy what the king tells you. If you do that, the game will end. It is an active decision that you are aware you are making, so don’t worry about accidentally stumbling into it. You’ll know you’re making the decision when the time comes. More The Longing Switch tips below.
Is there a map?
Yes and no. There is a room with a crude map drawn on it you can find. The drawing is not filled in, but the Shade says it can be deciphered with time. Stand in front of the drawing and let some time pass. slowly the camera will zoom out and the map will be revealed.
You’re encouraged to draw your own map since the drawing room can’t be taken with you. If you’d rather annotate an existing map, check this 4K game map of the caves, it’s the same guide you see after deciphering the drawing.
The Longing Switch Tips
One of the things you can do to make time pass faster is have Shade draw. Drawings take some time to complete and can be displayed on the walls. You hang drawings with the right analog cursor and press A to grab and A again to place. If you want to get rid of a drawing, you can burn it in the fireplace.
Initially, the Shade only has coal available to draw with. You can find more colors by exploring the cave. There are five colors and each combination of colors has different themes related to the Shade’s thoughts. You can find more papers to draw on by exploring the caves. (You’ll never run out, don’t worry.)
- Coal – Shade starts the game with this color.
- Clay – A reddish lump of clay the Shade can find.
- Sulfur – A smelly yellow pigment that is mined.
- Chalk – A white pigment Shade can find exploring.
- Lapis Lazuli – A blue pigment Shade can find late in the game.
Once you have all five colors unlocked, there are a total of 221 painting combinations you can make.
Shade Reading & Collecting Books
Reading books makes the timer advance by one minute per page. If you’re impatient, you can flip through the end of a book really fast to get the timer reduction. It only works once per page, so re-reading a book is useless.
There’s an idle reading option that will allow Shade to read on his own. He will turn the page once per minute in this mode. It also works when the game is closed, but will stop after the Shade finishes his current book. Occasionally, he will make comments about the things he has explored in the Thoughts book, or on the final page of a finished book.
You can unlock the avid reader achievement by reading around three books. Sometimes it may take more books. Remember: clicking through a book to the very end counts as reading it.
Shade’s Music Instrument
There are four pieces of the musical instrument that are scattered throughout the caves to discover. Playing all the notes on the musical instrument will make the time pass faster.
Early on in the game, you will find a pickaxe the game calls a mattock. It is used to dig out new areas. I’ll leave the discovery of those diggable spots to yourself. Just know that when the Shade says it has encountered granite, you can’t dig any further in that direction. There is also more than one mattock to be found in the cave.
The Longing Shade Birthday
The Shade celebrates his birthday in-game and it is the only event you can miss if you’re not around when it happens. It is triggered when the timer drops to 035:00:00, or 35 days left. The Shade will comment that today is its birthday and there is a special puzzle you can solve with the help of a friend whom you meet while exploring the caves.
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