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Reviews Comments: Proof that sometimes you need an extra decade of learning The Longest Journey game review by Tom With No Numbers

The Longest Journey is clearly related to Walking Dead style games, or even Uncharted linear adventure stories. But it was made a decade before we learned how to stop adventure games from sucking.

Theoretically a puzzle in a point and click should do one of these things:
  • Simulate the protagonists actions to help us empathise with the character
  • Help us to learn more about the world
  • Provide satisfaction from solving a puzzle

Barring one quest, this game does none of that. In fact it contains the worst puzzle line I've ever played. A mysterious old man has revealed cryptic hints about your past and offers more if you meet up with him inside a cinema. Cool, intriguing stuff. But instead of striking whilst the player is hooked the designers thought it best to send the player off on a huge quest-chain to get inside the cinema involving dipping sweets in petrol and a man dancing like a monkey because a shadow told him too. None of it teaches us about the world and it's so absurdly illogical that, instead of feeling satisfaction, I was worried that I was damaging my brain trying to think at a level where taking bread from a bar so I can get a seagull to attack an inflatable is reasonable There's no rewarding feeling in solving a puzzle that doesn't make sense in the first place.

And all I'm saying is, I find it quite hard to empathise with a character whose first thought after not being able to get into a cinema is to pull out the clamps and rubber duck.

In a story game, puzzles shouldn't involve getting items should involve doing more than a character would reasonably go. No-one is going to break into a police station to buy a coke or cross the city multiple times to open a door. They should use intelligence and serve a purpose in your game. If they don't, get rid of them because they're just stopping the player from connecting with the story.

And it is a good story, incredibly original for a game, The Neverending Story style fantasy mixed with cyberpunk and a fiery protagonist who has some surprisingly delicate backstory with her father. I'm pleased I experienced the whole story, I just wish I didn't have to go through so much inanity to get there.


  • Koveras
  • 20th May 13
I love how 95% of the review is explaining what parts of the game suck and only the last couple of sentences get to the good parts. [wink]
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 20th May 13
I know and I do feel a bit bad about that, I tried to convey in the very last sentence that the balance of how it affects my opinion of the game isn't the same as the balance of my review, and in an 800 word review I hope it would be more equal, but there was a lot more I wanted to say about the gameplay than I wanted to say about the story. The story really was good and I'm glad I played the game because of it, but I don't know if I have a whole lot to say about it. It's different and April has more personality than almost all game protagonists you meet (without descending into cartoonishness either). The small twist at the end is particularly worth while and the plot with the sea and land people was one of the best parts. And April's friends felt like pretty genuine friends and even though their story role was small, it was effective.

  • Koveras
  • 22nd May 13
Well, you could have written just that in the main review text—if need be, at the cost of cutting some the criticism parts. :-)
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 22nd May 13
Thing is, that alone is 150+ words so I'd have to slice my review in half to fit it in and I don't think I'd be able to take out enough and have my criticism still make sense. And I don't think I've been particularly effective or useful with what I wrote up there. In bullet points all I#ve said is
  • Story is good
  • April has personality
  • One part of the story was particularly good
  • April's friends were genuine

And 2/4 of those points are in the review already with the other two not being particularly useful to anyone who hasn't already played the game. It'd make the review feel more balanced, but only by review count, I'd be making roughly the same amount of points but just being less concise about it
  • doctrainAUM
  • 29th Jun 13
The retrospective on says that the puzzles become far easier once you set foot in Arcadia. Is that true? I mean, the puzzles in the demo were decent. Maybe it's like Gabriel Knight 3, where most of the puzzles make sense, but there's a stupid puzzle line in the very beginning that's inexplicable and throws new players off.

In that post you linked to, I didn't appreciate how he (you?) said that adventure games needed to die. Maybe it's because I find Tell Tale games (the only modern ones I've played) too simple. Maybe I just don't like that being said about one of my favorite genres.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 29th Jun 13
The puzzles get less stupid after the beginning that's definitely true. They never became gratifying though, apart from maybe one which involves collecting stories about a culture (because that served a story purpose). I haven't really checked out many of the Tell Tale adventure games apart from the Walking Dead and I probably don't have enough experience of the genre to say what I said (for example I've never even played Grim Fandago) but I've rarely found an adventure game that had puzzles I really enjoy. Their evolutionary spin-off of the story focused adventure games like Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy, To The Moon, The Walking Dead (and technically LA Noire, but LA Noire wasn't very good) is one of my favourite genres but they all changed a lot of the inventory puzzles into something more story appropriate (up to and including removing them completely)

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