Reviews: The Longest Journey

Proof that sometimes you need an extra decade of learning

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.