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Video Game / The Longest Journey

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"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where."

The Longest Journey is the first game of the The Longest Journey Saga. It is a 1999 Adventure Game written by Ragnar Tørnquist and developed by the Norwegian company Funcom for Microsoft Windows. Famous for its expansive storyline, a lovable, Genre Savvy heroine, and flawless gameplay (as far as point-and-click gameplay goes), the game is commonly credited with resurrecting the Adventure Game genre after its crisis in the late '90s. In November 2014, The Longest Journey also received an iOS port.

April Ryan is an ordinary art student living in the Orwellian metropolis Newport and applying for the local Academy of Arts. She has her share of problems with her parents, insecurity about her future, and increasingly strange dreams, but she also has some great friends, a job, and a friendly landlady. Then a weird Cool Old Guy named Cortez appears and tells her that she is The Chosen One who has to Save Both Worlds — and then he sends her to that other world, Arcadia, that she is supposed to save. As her familiar world crumbles around her, April has to dive deeper into the secrets of the universe, fulfill cryptic prophecies, bring down an Ancient Conspiracy or two, save the Guardian of the Balance, and ultimately restore the harmony between the Twin Worlds of Stark and Arcadia. And that all in less than two weeks.

The game is available on both Steam and, but notoriously difficult to get to run on some modern systems. It is, however, currently fully playable in the ResidualVM emulation engine (an offshoot of ScummVM), albeit with some glitches and missing features.

Tropes found in the game:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: Inverted. In Arcadia, thirteen is a lucky number with strong tradition. The Ayrede High Council has thirteen ministers, and thirteen Fathers who begat the Sentinel and built the Tower of Balance.
  • Abusive Parents: April's adoptive father, though it's strongly hinted he feels deep remorse over it.
  • Alice Allusion: When Cortez helps April travel to Arcadia for the first time, he deliberately invokes this imagery to her: "Why, Alice, I am sending you through the looking glass!"
  • Alien Geometries: The maze in Roper Klacks' castle has some fake perspectives. There is also a staircase at the background, which is revealed to be just a painting.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Flipper utters some final words to April when she meets him half-dead.
  • Alphabet Soup Cans: Roper Klack is beaten by using a calculator, to prove that you can do math and he can't. Or at least, you can do it faster. Afterward, the mage gets sucked into the calculator, for reasons unexplained.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Talisman of the Balance helps April out in various situations.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Alatien and the Maerum has a common lineage. Their ancestors apparently came from space.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Vanguard.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Sentinel Fathers.
  • Bird People: The Alatien are roughly humanoid birds with wings for arms.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • After all her numerous trials and sacrifices throughout TLJ, April is basically given heartfelt thanks... and then left to her own devices. She even admits as not knowing how to feel as she starts her trek "home".
    • By the end Arcadia is under attack and Tobias is dead.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Glass eye on retinal scanner.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Initially the story does not take itself too seriously, being at some points an Affectionate Parody of fantasy stories and even campy and comedic at times, with lots of Lampshade Hanging. But the story starts to take a very dark turn when the Tyren army invades Marcuria and Emma is shot by the Vanguard.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Mr. Guybrush is utilized twice in the game.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Mystery Door by the Fringe.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: The volcano on Alais.
  • The Chosen One: Played with heavily. When April asks Cortez if she is the chosen one, he denies the idea. Later, he gets to admit it to be true. April doesn't want to be in that role either, but grows into it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: You never know what George the maintenance man will say next.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Minelli uses this to secretly keep an eye on the movie entrance. April points out that obviously, he must be a cop.
  • Cosmic Deadline: Sort of a Disc one variant, with April obtaining two pieces of the stone disc within roughly ten minutes of each other. In true Longest Journey Fashion, she points out how easy obtaining these pieces was.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: In Stark, the Vanguard are working under the cover of the Church of Voltec.
  • Creator Cameo: Ragnar Tørnquist voices Marcus, a minor character near the start of the game.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: There are other things too, but special mention goes to Detective Minelli. First you poison him (or at least give him a severely upset stomach) to get him to move out of an area, then you steal his glass eye (he obviously becomes very panicked when you do this) and replace it with a plastic eye from a toy monkey (which he then puts in his eye socket). Other solutions involve conning your way around problems.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: A lot of technoheads in the cyberpunk metropolis of Newport.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: The Guybrush monkey toy.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: April breaks into the Vanguard headquarters by pretending to deliver pizza.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The ending reveals that April is actually supposed to get the Guardian to his destination, not become the Guardian herself.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Stone Disc, the key to the Guardian's realm in the first game. Justified in the Back Story: the disc was originally kept at the Sentinel Enclave, ready for pickup by The Chosen One, but then the Vanguard tried to steal it. Afterwards, the Sentinels decided to break it up and hand the pieces over to the four magical peoples most motivated to keep it hidden (since most magical creatures would likely perish if the Twin Worlds were forcibly reunited).
  • Disney Villain Death: Cortez and Jacob McAllen, Word of God stating that the former is just hiding, though what that would imply about the latter...
  • A Dog Named "Dog": April's sidekick is a crow named Crow. He was also originally a bird named Bird.
  • Doom Doors: The sound of any automatic door. These become more apparent in the later parts of the game, on the upper level and the space station.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Pretty much the point of the first part of the game and it explicitly references Alice at many occasions.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: The cop at the shuttle crash does this after April speaks with him and he sends her away.
  • Dream Intro: Subverted. While it looks like a dream, when April visits the same location in the waking world, she can see the traces of her actions from when she was "dreaming" about it at the start of the game. In other words, it was real from the start, she just didn't realize it then.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The fictitious drug "Rapture" comes up repeatedly, though it's not important to the story. Too many will really mess you up. Also referenced is the fictitious drug "Amathin".
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Captain Nebevay is tricked by April into leaving to checking on apple supplies below decks, despite noticing what pest is infecting them.
    These are worms, all right — vicious, snarling wheat worms, driven mad by their hunger for a change of diet!
  • Fantastic Drug: "Rapture" and "Amathin", the effects which are never explained in detail. "Instant Heat Potency Pills" can be found in the men's rooms, a fantastic replacement for Viagra.
  • Framing Device: The game starts with an old woman named Lady Alvane being asked to tell a story to two children. Instead of the one they asked her, she tells them the story of April Ryan. At the end of the game, Lady Alvane finishes her story, and the children leave.
  • Funny Background Event: April crashes a news report and does this.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Some actions have to be done in the exact right order, even if the game seems to accept any order. Usually, it's no big deal, except for one puzzle that doesn't allow disassembling a partly-assembled contraption. It requires to pull a rubber duck (that has to stay inflated) over a steel clamp and then tie a rope to the clamp. Since there's a time limit until the duck deflates, many players reverse the order: attach the rope to the clamp, then blow up the duck and attach it. But this way the game behaves as if there is no rope, and April can neither use the device nor untie the rope. The device is required to finish Chapter 2, but the mistake can be made early in Chapter 1. In other words, a player has to restart.note 
  • Gentle Giant: Sleeping Q'aman. Not surprisingly, his official circus nickname is "The Gentle Giant."
  • Glass Eye: The police officer's eye falling out and rolling around. Also an example of Electronic Eye. It becomes a Borrowed Biometric Bypass.
  • Guardian of the Multiverse: Guardians of the Balance.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: In the space station, if a guard catches April, she runs away and the guard just returns to his post. The worst thing happens when the guard at the HQ catches you: he escorts you out, no matter how many times he caught you before. This same guard, when you disconnect the security camera, simply leaves his post to reconnect it instead of raising the alarm.
  • Guide Dang It!: One of the reasons this game was so well received was the lack of this trope. However, even then, a few puzzles may come off as unintuitive, namely the rubber ducky puzzle very early in the game.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gordon Halloway has one after his soul is reunited with his body.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Accessible via the Book of Secrets.
  • Hitler Cam: Used when recording the speech of Jason McAllen.
  • Improvised Screwdriver: April has to unscrew a grating and uses the single Arcadian coin she has left to do it.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Invoked by name.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Tobias gives you the Talisman of the Balance, and is quick to admit that aside from being magical, he has no idea what it does and doesn't really know how it will help, only that it's supposed to be given to April.
  • Keep It Foreign: In the Spanish version Cortez is not Hispanic, but rather a Frenchman named "Corthes".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: The Gribbler takes this to ludicrous levels, one of many, many signs that she is totally evil and will eat you:
    I was out picking bones — uh, berries, for my stew, and flowers, yeeess, pretty flowers...
    Oh, I'm no one, no one at all, just a frail, old woman out picking booones- uh, berries, picking berries, for her stew so she can feed her prisoners — uh, guests, so she can fatten them up for... um, the long winter...
    I still need your help, plump pudd- um, nice pretty girl, [...] Help me home and I'll cook you... um, a nice stew! Yum, I'm getting hungry already *growl*...
    Oh, what have we here, this... "stew", isn't good enough to stuff yo— um, to serve, a guest as plump— as well built and deliciou— as honoured as you, my dear...
  • Limited Wardrobe: Partially averted, with different, context-sensitive outfits for April. Justified, too, when she enters Arcadia in her nightclothes.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The White Dragon, who turns out to be April's real mother.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: April has to collect the pieces of the Disk of the Guardian and the Dragon Eye Jewels.
  • Magitek: The "statue-cum-phonebooths", as April calls them, are used as communication devices between different parts of the island. They can be rotated to configure which other statue they are listening/talking to.
  • Merged Reality: That's what the Vanguard are attempting to do; apparently, chances of failure don't bother them much.
  • Modern Stasis: The game is set 200 years in the future, yet, apart from the cyberpunkish aesthetics, there is little plot-relevant futuristic technology.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The infamous key on the subway tracks, which requires you to go out of your way to snoop around and solve seemingly inconsequential puzzles to amass a shopping list of random items and MacGyver most of them together into a bizarre contraption to retrieve it. And it won't even be obvious why you're going out of your way to get this random key unless you get far enough in the game.
    • There is also a "mystifying" machine by the hotel that acts as a Myst-esque puzzle.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Gribbler, ye gods.
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: Said by the police guard bot at the site of the crashed transportation unit in front of PD.
  • Mr. Exposition: Cortez and Tobias have lengthy exposition speeches.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When traveling on Nebevay's ship, April first manages to divert the ship into dangerous waters with her magic talisman. Then, when she tries to recover the talisman after Nebeway takes it away from her, she hits the floorboard with the axe instead of the chest in which the talisman is locked away, which results in the ship sinking.
  • NPC Amnesia: April can change her answers without fearing any backlash.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Roper Klack's castle.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Draic Kin
  • Overly Long Name: The first two Bandas met have long names, Bandu-umanu-banta-au-rubana-biutan-binaort ('the little one who tries hard to live up to his father who sings to the Soil') and Bandu-uta-matuta-uiaten-aiama-binaort. April clearly wants to refer to them with a shorter name.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Simply by holding a pizza box, April can get past a guard she had previously pestered to no avail.
  • The Passwordis Always Swordfish: At PD, April correctly guesses the password for the database to be "laura0731" which is the name and birthday of the officer's wife.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The housekeeper at the Mercury theatre kicks the flickering neon sign with his broom in hope to get it to work again. The actual problem is in a nearby fuse box - when the percussion doesn't work anymore, he leaves.
  • Physical God: The Guardian. However, after or during the Changing of the Guard, they are as helpless as normal humans.
  • Product Placement: One of the bits of graffiti on the subway is the logo for Coca-Cola's short-lived Mountain Dew competitor Surge.
  • Prophecy Pileup: By the end, April fulfills the prophecies of at least three magical peoples who all proclaim her their respective Chosen One.
  • Reconcile the Bitter Foes: April has to play the peacemaker between the Alatien and the Maerum to get to the Old God, a.k.a. the Blue Kin.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: If you look at a red cherub in the cathedral, April mentions that it must be from the sequel of the Bible.
  • Scary Shadow Fakeout: Invoked - you must assemble a pile of things to make a shadow that resembles one of a man pointing a gun, so that a guy sees it and gets scared.
  • Set Piece Puzzle
  • Shout-Out: The game features a lot of homages to famous TV shows and movies of our time, including Looney Tunes, Evil Dead, Futurama, Labyrinth, and Star Trek. And there is Constable Guybrush.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Most of Newport is quite gritty, which is in contrast with the shiny upper levels. The space station is also gritty.
  • Slipping a Mickey: While putting candy in ooze gives a rather obvious bad taste and only has the detective driven off because spitting out the candy hits Freddie, it's done more direct later by putting "Instant Heat" in a security guard's coffee.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: When April tries to get past a security guard by acting cute, all he says is, "Sorry, ma'am, I'm gay".
  • Standard Power-Up Pose: The Guardian of the Balance assumes this pose (but with his legs together) upon ascending to the top of the Tower of the Balance.
  • Stealth Pun: When April returns Crow to his original horrid owner, she's literally giving him the bird.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option:
    • The scene with the Gribbler, although the jury is still out on whether it was played straight or as a mockery of the trope.
    • Disrupt the magic compass and prevent the ship's escape from a storm that even got the hardened crew shaking in their boots? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Superstitious Sailors: Played for Laughs with Captain Nebeway, who invents the craziest maritime superstitions on the spot that allegedly prevent him from signing a map delivery receipt — all to conceal the fact that he cannot actually read or write.
  • Supervillain Lair: Roper Klacks' castle and McAllen's skyscraper and office.
  • Surprisingly Easy Miniquest: Getting the Stone Disc pieces kept by the Dark People and by Abnaxus.
  • Taken for Granite: Roper Klacks favorite pastime is turning people into sentient statues.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Defied. Captain Nebeway talks normally, even if April tries pirate-speech on him. Nebeway is not impressed.
  • Third-Person Person: Q'aman refers to himself by his name, seemingly related to him not fully understanding some conversation from April.
  • Title Drop: "You're about to take the first step on the longest journey of your life."
  • Unlikely Hero: April is just a minimum wage waitress and starving artist at the start of the game
  • Visible Invisibility: We can still make out April when she becomes invisible.
  • We Can Rule Together: McAllen tries to convince Cortes of this.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Near the end, after April escapes Venice, Emma and Charlie is never heard from again, except that Emma is alive. We don't get to know whether April finally got reunited with them or not. These questions are resolved in Dreamfall, though.
  • Worm in an Apple: April has to distract Captain Nebevay away from the compass aboard his ship. Her course of action is to catch a wheat worm, stick it inside an apple, and show the infested apple to the captain as "proof" that the barrel might be infested and needs to be checked up on.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: If you try to gamble your gold ring in the cups game, the dealer will refuse and say that he only accepts iron coins.
  • Wretched Hive: Newport to varying degrees. Venice is quite nice, except for the sewage flowing in the canals. The Metro Square area looks like a typical Cyberpunk city. Then there is The City Narrows, Hope Street. You don't want to go there unless really needed.
  • You Can't Miss It: The mapmaker's directions in the delivery mission.


Video Example(s):


Sorry Ma'am

April's attempt at flirting with a cop hits a bit of a snag.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / IncompatibleOrientation

Media sources: