That’s part of the premise behind 29, the first chapter in Humble Grove’s No Longer Home series, a point and click game that delves into the ordinary by stripping away many of the elements that help us make sense of it.
Apartment life can be all sorts of things. Cramped. Predictable. Embarrassing. Now imagine taking the challenges of occupying a space the side of few shipping crates and adding a creepy roommate who looks right out of a Guillermo del Toro short. Things start to get weird real fast.
The game recently made its way onto Steam Greenlight and now has a new trailer showing just how unsettling your home can become when magical realism replaces the mundane and familiar.
Due out later this year for PC and Mac, 29 places you in the shoes of the Bo and Ao as they navigate barbecues and playing video games. It was created by Londoners Tom Davison and Hana Lee to reflect their time right at the end of attending university and trying to find where they fit into the larger world, with Bo and Ao as in-game avatars for that mix of anxiety and possibility.
Told through a series of rotatable dioramas, 29 crafts an idea of “home” through the way players interact with objects found in Bo and Ao’s living spaces and the ordinary stuff that takes place there. It’s sort of like a 3D book report for a memoir that was made playable by way of Gone Home mixed with Kentucky Route Zero.
Bo might be looking into a bathtub to see a galaxy appear, or a skull might emerge from within a microwave. These slippages with reality are intended to mirror the characters own unease and transformations, making the apartment they occupy as much a part of their characterization as anything else.
In an interview with Waypoint, Davison explained that part of the goal with 29 was to make the player feel trapped. “You can’t leave the house until the end of the game and that’s a choice we made,” they said in the interview. “It’s not a case of the character not wanting to leave, it’s a case of them not being able to leave. I’m trying to get across the feeling of disassociating, that sense of feeling outside yourself and kind of not feeling real.”
The game currently has a private beta going on, but a spiritual predecessor to 29 called Friary Road is available to download on itch.io.