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Video Game / The Journey Down

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Journey Down is an Episodic Adventure Game by the Swedish indie developer SkyGoblin. Drawning inspiration from Film Noir and Afro-Caribbean culture, the game is best described as Grim Fandango meets the Western Pacific Ocean.

In a shady corner of Kingsport Bay, at the outskirts of St Armando, Bwana and his trusted sidekick Kito struggle to make ends meet at their run-down gas station. Little do they know that they are about to be thrown into a spine-tingling adventure that will take them far from home and right into a twisting plot of corruption and danger.

The plot catalyst is a young woman named Lina, assistant to a university professor who was investigating the Underland, a realm underneath the edge of the world. Her search has led her to look for a journal written by Kaonandodo, Bwana and Kito's foster father, and thereby to the Gas and Charter. Offering enough money for Bwana and Kito to pay off their debts to the electric company, she entices the duo to fly her down to the Underland.

But there's a problem. Kaonandodo's old seaplane is missing its engines. And a propeller. And a steering wheel. Cue Bwana going on a kleptomaniacal spree.

The first chapter was originally released for free in 2010 and then remade as a commercial title in 2012, with Chapter Two following in 2014. The third and final chapter was successfully funded through Kickstarter and released in 2017.

Trope Examples:

  • Action Girl
    • Gabi proves to be surprisingly capable infiltrating, knocking out guards bigger than her, and using guns. One has to wonder in what places she went to report before the hard times of censorship fell to the ANN.
    • Erza, a female Sisulu Pirate, is seen only briefly but seems to be quite capable, even if Lina manages to defeat her with a mix of quick thinking and luck.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Sky Pirates have one. Not only it has multiple hangar bays and a runway but is also armed to the teeth.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Early in Chapter Three, Bwana and Kito split from Lina and return to the surface, while she stays in the Underland. Later in the game, you have to take control of Lina for a while before going back to Bwana.
  • Arcadia: The Underland compared to St. Armando and Port Artue. Both are perpetually shrouded in darkness and are full of unsavory individuals. The Underland, on the other hand, is a sunny paradise with roaming animals (given the game's African theme, it's a savannah with giraffes and elephants) and tropical islands. There are massive ruins of ancient cultures, and a giant World Tree at the center.
  • Badass Bookworm: Lina becomes this by the third episode.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The mechanic on the Sky Pirates' airship initially seems like he's about to torture Lina for information, given that he's heating up water and making comments that sound menacing. Nope, he's just making her some tea so she feels more at home. He's actually a pretty nice guy.
  • Big Bad: The CEO of the Armando Power Company is obviously behind it all from the beginning, but his plans are later revealed to be even more sinister than first thought.
  • Call-Back: One of the last puzzles of Chapter Three involves a box with a power switching lever, just like the one Bwana and Kito tampered with in Chapter One. They even comment on that. It even comes with the same gag.
  • Camera Spoofing: Bwana tries to spoof the monitor-watching security guard at Club Temba by recording the camera video on a tape he got from a sailor and then playing it back. Naturally, he ends up messing it up and playing the tape. But it's ok, because it's a porn tape, and the guard is too busy watching it to care what else is going on.
  • Cardboard Prison: The prison at Port Artue holds Bwana and Kito for no more than a few hours. All the guards go home for the night, and the walls turn out to be easy to break.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During Chapter Three, you can often see a cassette tape on a table; you are told what is recorded on it, but you can't take it. At the end, it becomes very important. Not much the object itself, which gets broken, but its content.
  • Cool Car: The gigantic former Tour Truck of Wasi and Bombshell. It's about 30 metres tall and apparently indestructible, as at some point it drives through an even taller cement barricade, and comes out without even a little deceleration.
  • Cool Plane: Sort of. Bwana and Kito's seaplane hasn't been used in years, but they manage to fix it back up using parts retrieved from various sources. For example, the engines were "borrowed" from a yacht. It's wrecked at the end of chapter 2, but Kito manages to salvage the floats and turns them into a raft.
  • Defector from Decadence: Gabi Mchica. A journalist for ANN (Armando News Networks), she's tired of being a puppet of the city government's propaganda and censorship. Meeting Bwana convinces her to join the cause to bring the Power Company down.
  • Dirty Cop: Chief Barlow is in charge of the Port Artue police and is as corrupt as they come. However, as Bwana finds out, he wasn't always like that. He used to be friends with Kaonandodo, Bwana and Kito's foster father, but they went their separate ways after coming back from the Underland. Barlow sold his soul to the power company, and they made him the new police chief of Port Artue, after murdering the old one. After the power company CEO arrives and occupies the town, he explains that Barlow is nothing but a puppet. Barlow ends up holding off the power company's Mooks while the heroes escape, giving his life for his old friend's adopted sons.
  • Even Evil Has Standards
    • In Episode Three, after Gabi leaks the truth about the Power Company's CEO intentions, the mayor of St. Armando realizes she did a big mistake trusting the CEO and goes to personally stop and arrest him. It costs her life.
    • Just a little later Madame Sisulu, having realized (thanks to Lina's earlier words) that her greed had taken over her honor, pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment, going personally into battle along her pirates to help stop the Power Company.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: There are four gods in the Underland pantheon. The God of Evil is a giant serpent named Nyakazho. The Big Good is the great eagle Awaquan. The Big Bad is after the Urn of Nyakazho, so he can summon the serpent and become the god himself. Lina ends up blowing the Horn of Awaquan, which summons the eagle. Just as Nyakazho is about to unleash destruction on St. Armando, Awaquan swoops in and carries the serpent off.
  • Flat World: Part of the premise. St. Armando isn't very far from the infamous and feared "Edge."
  • Fog of Doom: The mist surrounding Port Artue has been there as long as anyone can remember. It's home to various kinds of eel, catching which is the main task of the misters, who go out on specially-designed misttrawlers (with an enormous keel) and use the Port Artue lighthouse to return (in fact, the lighthouse is so reliable that most captains don't bother installing standard navigational equipment, which bites them in the ass when the lighthouse is damaged by the Sky Pirates). The Hungries are the worst kind of eel, who swarm ships that run out of power and rip the crew to shreds.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Police chief Barlow holds off the Armando Power Company goons, while the heroes get away. He manages to shoot most of them, but ends up getting shot anyway.
    • Madame Sisulu and Her Sky Pirates pull off a Big Damn Heroes moment near the end of the series. Since we don't see them afterwards, we don't know if they'll go back to their old ways, but for the time being they certainly help save the day.
  • If It Swims, It Flies: Averted, for the most part. Ships that are designed to prowl the sea cannot sail the mist past the Edge. Ships designed to sail the mist have a huge draft (may times the length of the ship) and cannot navigate the sea. Some ships are specially designed to do both but still need to go through the locks.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Gabi in Chapter Three. Although she was just Hired for Their Looks and paid to parrot the talking points her bosses handed her, once she finds out that there's a huge story with many lives at stake, she turns out to be extremely brave and capable.
  • Jerkass: An Armando Power Company technician in Chapter Three is possibily the most insufferable character in the series. Arrogant and with an hair-trigger temper, he seems to enjoy the power he feels over the inhabitants of the downtown, since he's charged with cutting out power before people are forcibly evicted.
  • Jive Turkey: Ride Reynolds, the cab driver. R is for Real.
  • La Résistance: A group has formed in St. Armando, composed mainly by people struck by the forced evictions and demolitions enacted by the mayor on behalf of the Power Company's projects. Waasi, an old friend of Bwana and Kito, is their leader.
  • Magical Defibrillator: One has to be improvised near the end of the series to save a character.
  • MegaCorp: The Armando Power Company appears to run everything and has a private army to boot.
  • Offscreen Romance: Makena and Sabo are first seen in Chapter One and never interact with each other. Later in Chapter Three, we find out they eventually met (Makena had been evicted from her joint in Kingsport Bay); being both cooks, they were a perfect match, and they now run a restaurant in St. Armando together.
  • The Power of Rock: Used in a most unexpectedly literal way at the end of the series. It's even justified!
  • Redemption Equals Death: Barlow.
  • Safecracking: Bwana has to do this several times. Subverted with the massive vault at Club Temba, where Bwana goes in through the unprotected outside wall, ignoring the massive vault door.
  • Shout-Out
    • The random ingredients in the yacht's kitchen refrigerator include shout-outs to Nelly Cootalot and Gemini Rue.
    • The design and general atmosphere of St. Armando in Chapter Three owe a lot to Blade Runner. A few screens take place into a condemned edifice called Tannhauser Building, and the view from its balcony reminds the one Rick Deckard has from his apartment.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: What the Big Bad is after.
  • Sky Pirate: The Sisulus are one of the great dangers of the mist. Led by Madam Sisulu, they are the ones responsible for breaking the lighthouse at Port Artue, stranding many trawlers in the mist. They are also after the riches of the Underland. However, they later show that Even Evil Has Standards.
  • The Three Trials: True to form, most of chapter 1 involves finding 3 missing components for the seaplane.
  • Waterfall into the Abyss: The Edge looks like this. If you go over and survive, you may end up in Port Artue. Go deeper, and you might find yourself in the mythical Underland. In fact, it's possible to navigate down the waterfall to the locks, which can be done by special ships designed to sail both the water and the mist.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Bwana has a severe fear of heights, which is problematic as he's a pilot. He can fly just fine, though- as long as he keeps his eyes closed. Naturally, in the course of his adventure he repeatedly has to deal with heights.
  • World Tree: There's one at the center of the Underland. The Armando Power Company plans to mine its roots in order to power the Urn of Nyakazho and unleash the Sealed Evil in a Can on St. Armando.
  • Wretched Hive: Port Artue is a cesspool run by a corrupt mayor and a corrupt police chief. They take their orders from the Armando Power Company and spend most of their time in the VIP lounge of Club Temba. There are very few decent people in the city.
    • Episode Three shows that St. Armando isn't in a better shape due to the machinations of the Power Company, helped by the iron-fist rule put in action by the city's mayor, and the situation's steadily getting worse.