“The Journey Down: Chapter One” Review

I have a small bit of a confession to make. I am not a very good gamer. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told, by friends and by the media’s interpretation of what a gamer is. I despise most games where it’s almost certain that, upon rounding this corner, a space-nazi-Russian guy will jump out and blast me with his plasma-shotgun. I loathe the “online multiplayer experience” that games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft offer me. Gaming has always been about the personal experience for me, which doesn’t exclude multiplayer games by the way (One of my fondest gaming memories is beating TMNT 4 on the SNES with my best friend one summer). And my favourite genre has always been Adventure Games, which brings me onto today’s game: Journey Down.

The Journey Down is a classic Point-and-Click Adventure game from Swedish indie developers SkyGoblin, who you may know as the devs behind the 3D MMO Nord. The game’s graphics are inspired by African art and culture.

Kito, Bwana and Lina

It is incredibly hard to be objective in this review. Although I missed the golden age of Adventure games through the virtue of being born in 1994, it is my favourite genre of video games. I must of wasted… let’s say a quarter of my life, which is a conservative estimate, playing mediocre point-and-click flash games. Grim Fandango, which I played last year (despite incredible technical difficulties), is one of my favourite games of all time.

Back to the topic. Journey Down is not only an homage suitable for the great games of Lucas Arts and Sierra, but is a masterpiece in its own right. The game has a mix of both hand-drawn and computer generated artwork. Now whilst this doesn’t always work, it comes off a treat here, mainly because of the high quality of lighting and the artwork of Henrik Englund and Theodor Waern. If I had to nitpick, the lip movement can be off at times. But as I said, it’s not that noticeable.

I especially love the city in the background

The quality of the voice acting varies, from the awesome work on the 3 main characters (pictured above), to the not-so-good Matoke the Fisherman, but to be fair, it’s mainly very good. Speaking of the audio… my god, do I love the music in this game. The music is courtesy of Simon De Souza. It perfectly reflects the mood of the particular scene it’s in, be it the relaxed nature of Bwana’s shack or the gritty feel of the street outside it, and the contrast of those two areas is highlighted by the music. (If, like me, you loved the music, you can download it on Simon’s own website for free).

I have to draw comparisons between Grim Fandango and Journey Down here. Journey Down features a similar story to Grim Fandango, and both games take artistic influence from a particular culture. Like Grim Fandango, the humour is wonderful. Bwana, the player’s hand in the world, is a genuinely likeable character. The amount of jokes and puzzles, whilst less than Grim Fandango, is the perfect amount for a part 1 in a several part episodic game.

Actually, talking about the fact it is an episodically released game reminded me of the last episodic Adventure game I played, the Back to the Future game by Telltale Games. I say this with no qualms, but Journey Down is a much better game. Especially when you take into account the money, staff and tradition Telltale had behind them. This isn’t to say the BttF game is bad, but to highlight the awesome quality of Journey Down.

Chapter 1 ends on a cliffhanger (which I’ll neglect to spoil, so don’t worry)… and I want Chapter 2 like… now. Seriously. Today I’m giving Journey Down 4.5 out of 5, with the 0.5 lost only because of the lip movements and the voice acting of one character, who is likely to not be in Chapter 2. That’s how good it is. You can pre-order “Journey Down: Chapter One” on GamersGate.com, with the release date being… oh, two days from now. It’s available on both PC and Mac, and also on both iOS and Android. Do yourself a favour and BUY IT NOW.

A special thanks goes to Mathias Johansson of SkyGoblin, who not only coded the game but also was kind enough to give me a review copy of the game

CircleGuy  (18 Posts)

Hey! My name's Rob, aka theCircleGuy! I'm a guy who loves the Beatles, so much so that sometimes it seems like I'm crazy. I have more to say, but not now- the owls are listening. I've been told I have to note that I'm from Ireland, which is not in Britain. Shame, shame on you... geography teachers...

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