Released over seven years in three parts, The Journey Down is an episodic point-and-click game originally released for Steam and mobile devices that recently made its console debut. With a unique Afro-Caribbean atmosphere, The Journey Down stands out among its adventure game contemporaries. With the ability to play all three in succession, really shows the growth of developer Skygoblin. Throughout my time playing the trilogy, I was both impressed by its classic point-and-click puzzles and its engaging story.
Anyone who has a fondness for point-and-click games will immediately feel at home with The Journey Down. It wears its LucasArts inspiration on its sleeve, and that’s not a bad thing. There’s an inherent satisfaction that comes with solving these inventory puzzles. Sure, some of the solutions can be quite head-scratching, but none are really more confounding than putting a hamster in a microwave.
I was never completely stumped while playing The Journey Down, though there were times where I did need to stop and think for a second. There are some actual puzzles scattered throughout, but they are all relatively easy to figure out. While I was challenged during my playthrough, The Journey Down never reaches the point of frustration.
The Journey Down centers around Bwana, who operate a gas station on the outskirts of St. Armando with trusty sidekick Kito. Abandoned by their adopted father, their lives are upended by a scholar named Lina, who is on the hunt for the mythical Underland. The three are soon swept up in a conspiracy greater than any of them could have imagined. As the story progress, the story, and the games themselves, get bigger and more ambitious.
That was one of the real joys of playing the trilogy in succession. Not only had the game improved visually, but the scale of each one got more grand. While the years-long wait may have been tough, seeing these results really showed that the developers were using that time to the fullest. There was a clear evolution to be seen here, which was great to see.
In terms of aesthetics, The Journey Down is one of the most visually striking games I’ve played. It’s not necessarily a graphic powerhouse, but it does stand out visually. The character designs are inspired by African masks, which really helps give The Journey Down an otherworldy vibe (and also had shades of Grim Fandago). The backgrounds are all hand-painted, too, which helps give The Journey Down that extra touch.
Complementing that is the Caribbean-inspired soundtrack. The saxophones played underneath everything will be sticking with me for a while. This may be a port of a mobile game, but it felt right at home on PlayStation 4.
Admittedly, the trilogy gets off to a pretty slow start. Chapter One is the smallest game, both in terms of scale and the objectives, and is pretty slow-paced. It’s really there to set up the main players and their conflict. It’s definitely not a bad introduction, but it’s the weakest of the three, which isn’t the worst problem to have.
My favorite chapter was Chapter Two, which takes place in the seedy Port Artue. Chapter Twois a noir tale through and through, with crooked cops and conspiracies aplenty. As I made my way through The Journey Down, I encountered more and more charming characters, and they really helped sell this world. Every character I met, even the most minor, had distinct personalities. One of my favorite parts of Chapter Three was assembling a team of revolutionaries. (Why was I doing that? play the game to find out.)
The ending for the trilogy in Chapter Three was a bit disappointing, unfortunately. Everything leading up to it was great (including a late-minute change of story), but the actual ending itself felt rushed. It just didn’t land the way I would’ve hoped it was after spending so much time in this world. Now, is it a deal breaker? Not at all. But it was a bit of a let-down.
As a fan of point-and clicks, The Journey Down gave me everything I would have wanted out of it. Engaging puzzles, enough of a challenge (but not too much), and memorable characters that stick with you. It is also a standout game visually and musically. It gets off to a bit of a slow start and doesn’t quite land the way I would’ve hoped, but the journey (down) was one worth taking. If you’re a fan of the classic LucasArts games, be sure to check this one out.
REVIEW CODE: A PS4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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