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Journey of a Roach (PC) artwork

Journey of a Roach (PC) review

"Bug standard adventuring "

On the assumption that humanity survives the hotbed of god-awful that is 2020 and is instead wiped out via a nuclear Armageddon, commonly held belief is that the cockroaches will inherit the now slightly glowing world. Thus sets the stage for Journey of a Roach, a barren planet now inhabited only by insects and bugs. Without the interference of pesky humans, insectkind has built an underground life for themselves somewhat similar to a society, complete with a hierarchy and hints of recent conflict. The ants seem to be the victor, and impose near fascist rule over the rest of the populace. It doesnít seem to affect Jim, though; a laid-back cockroach whoís most pressing concern is babysitting a fellow roach, Bud, as they roll through a collection of lumbering disasters. To the gameís credit, Jimís not just a cockroach for show, and a lot of the gameís progression will centre on his ability to screw over gravity, and walk along walls and ceilings which lets you tackle problems, literally, from different angles. Itís almost impressive, then, with this adventuresome new approach and interesting setting, that Journey of a Roach manages to feel as bland as it does.

Maybe itís down to the gameís brief lifespan; clocking in at about two hours, not a lot of time is given to establish the new world order of semi-sentient creepy crawlies. Some of this is appreciated. Thereís no real need to perform a deep lore dive into the why and hows of the insect world; that it exists is interesting enough and, if built around correctly, the absence of encyclopaedic explanation could be considered more of a boon. Journey of a Roach, however, is more concerned with being a loony and off-the-wall zany adventure where Joeís progress through the world is strictly governed by Budís clumsy failings, forcing him to delve deeper into the subterranean suburbia because the ungainly git has plummeted through several floors.

As a result, the game has a meandering lack of focus attached to it, containing no real narrative to drive you forward. Itís all just a madcap chain of coincidences that fail to help establish either the world or the characters within them. You might foster some sympathy for Jim and his never ending quest to right his moronic friendís bumbling, but his own ridiculous choices often coat him in a similar light. Yes, this is an adventure game so it could be easily argued that the ludicrous leaps of logic routinely asked of you are founded in the genre rather than the title, but itís not so much the puzzles or unlikely solutions that resign you, but the characterís decisions. The big finale to the game is this weird juxtaposition of deus ex machina and randomness for the sake of randomness that it further devalues a tale already somewhat lacking in value.

Considering the fleeting runtime, I should have seen Journey of a Roach off in a single sitting but, by around the halfway mark, the forced humour and constant pratfalls had conspired enough to derail my interest. Itís annoying, because there are good ideas included throughout Ė original ideas, no less, which is impressive in a genre as long established as adventure games. But so much of it feels squandered. Being able to turn walls and ceilings into floors had a lot of potential, but is mainly used as a way to gain items in order to solve puzzles rather than be a keystone to the puzzles themselves. Lacking a common language, the bugs communicate through pictograms. But theyíre often infuriatingly vague or, worse, confusingly irrelevant. Roach is never likely to be considered a difficult game, but its inability to always communicate clearly causes it unnecessary delays. Also of note is, while the game nails Jimís ability to make everything his new floor, simple actions like the use of your inventory is made weirdly complex. 3D navigation of the world should have been the tricky bit to execute; inventory management was nailed back in the early 90ís. It doesnít need a laborious reinvention.

Scuttling through to the endgame will probably hinge more on a sense of completion than anything else. The irrelevant humour struggles to land and the aimless journey ambles ever onwards, despite its brevity. Itís hard to retain interest, and I doubt anyone would really blame you if you just bugged out.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 17, 2020)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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