No Place Like Home is a fun & relaxing farming simulator where taking your own pace is recommended, though it has its flaws.
Developer – Chicken Launcher
Publisher – Awaken Realms
Platforms – PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 (reviewed)
Review copy given by publisher
No Place Like Home takes some time to get started and it’s not immediately clear how you will start earning money. But it lives up to its title of a calm and relaxing RPG, letting you explore the world at your own pace.
When the Earth is ruined beyond belief and humanity has escaped to Mars, one girl goes back to find her grandfather. Join Ellen as she postpones her trip to Mars to find out why her grandfather has disappeared on Earth. Along the way, she must meet with the remaining humans on Earth and clean up her surroundings to find the truth.
Earth is filled with trash piles and rubble that Ellen must clean up. Since her grandfather is away, no one is taking care of the family farm. Ellen must rear animals and grow crops to unlock more technology. She can also do whatever she likes on the farm because there’s no time limit. Despite a message asking Ellen to leave if she can’t find her grandfather in two weeks, she can stay as long as she likes.
This makes it easy to go at your own pace since there is no pressure. Decorate, grow crops, and explore at your own leisure. Even if you want to take a lazy day, there’s no penalty. Crops don’t die, animals don’t feel neglected, and your grandfather never moves. Without any pressure, you can do whatever you like without any risk.
You must complete objectives to progress the story which provides some direction. Buildings and upgrades require certain resources that you must harvest or find. But you can never run out of resources or put yourself in an unwinnable situation. There are always ways to obtain resources and build yourself back up. Being able to bounce back from any scenario makes it easier to explore, since there are no consequences.
Cleaning up Earth is also fun and relaxing. While you can’t clean every mess immediately, you slowly upgrade your gear to remove different types of rubble. It’s gratifying to vacuum up trash and repurpose it into material or break down rubble to open new paths. Everything you do has a purpose and the results gradually show themselves. You can’t completely revive Earth, but your cleanup will impact the environment.
Decayed and dying areas will spring back to life with the right processes. It’s not just an aesthetic choice as it’s easier to explore clean environments. Threats won’t be able to take you by surprise and you can utilize your surroundings better. It’s a great way to reward players who go the extra mile and take the time to clean up.
Exploration is also key because there are several secrets to be found off the beaten path. Underground entrances are everywhere and provide shortcuts if you can clear them out. Climbing up ladders can reveal bird nests stuck on high ledges. While it’s not mandatory, there are no paths that are too obscure that it’s not obvious. You will need some puzzle-solving or a close look, but that’s all you need.
There are robotic enemies you can fight to keep you on your toes. They also possess resources or guard special areas that hide treasures. Including combat is a good way to freshen up the typical farming formula while making you cautious about progressing. As you progress, the robots get tougher and you must prepare before going forward.
Fitting in with the idea of going at your own pace, there are no consequences for dying in battle. Even if you pick the hardest difficulty, you only lose a few resources. Combat isn’t difficult either and once you learn where you went wrong, it’s easy to win the next time. You can also delay combat if it’s too much and you want to do something else instead.
As you progress in the story, you unlock new buildings for your farm. Some contain animals that provide resources while others are purely decorative. These options are unlocked as you explore, allowing you to customize your farm as you like. It’s easy to put your own spin on your farm even if you only have a few objects.
The best part is that the land you can work with expands as you clean it up. Constructing buildings at your farm and then moving them to new lands is exciting and it feels like you are rebuilding Earth. While you will almost always stay at your farm, it’s a good feeling when you can apply a special touch to a new area.
Taking things at your own pace does have its disadvantages. Starting out can be confusing because there isn’t a clear guide on where you should go. The map is basic and doesn’t point out important locations like underground entrances. There’s also no guidance marker and you must search everywhere to find the next destination. It is frustrating when you can’t easily progress because you can’t find your way. It clashes with the relaxing and easygoing atmosphere because progressing with objectives can be stress-relieving. Since unlocking content is dependent on progress, having a guide would be helpful.
Getting better upgrades and facilities costs money in the form of Jars. While some facilities can be obtained through quests, Jars are considerably harder to earn in the beginning. It won’t be a big problem later on but it’s not established how you earn Jars early on. This makes it confusing when you want to afford new upgrades because you don’t have a clear path. It gets easier later, but establishing how Jars are earned would make this game much more accessible.
No Place Like Home has enough charm to make up for its flaws. It’s definitely the game you go to when you want to relax or decorate. There’s even an adventure you can go on if you need some excitement. But you will mostly be exploring and improving your farm while finding out what happened to your grandfather. If you needed a farming simulator with a recycling message and some action, this is the game for you.