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The Longest Journey (PC) artwork

The Longest Journey (PC) review


"What did we used to like about adventure games? I can't believe that it was the puzzles involving MacGyver-like intuition (combine the apple with the hair spray to get a flamethrower) nor the amazing graphical achievements (anyone else remember having to click on things just to get the game to tell you what the hell it was?). It's easy to believe, with the lack of adventure games out today, that genre outlived its welcome. At the same time, it's hard to completely buy this when games such as ..."



What did we used to like about adventure games? I can't believe that it was the puzzles involving MacGyver-like intuition (combine the apple with the hair spray to get a flamethrower) nor the amazing graphical achievements (anyone else remember having to click on things just to get the game to tell you what the hell it was?). It's easy to believe, with the lack of adventure games out today, that genre outlived its welcome. At the same time, it's hard to completely buy this when games such as Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island are still heralded as enjoyable classics, with memorable characters and witty dialouge that people still quote.

Ah yes... witty dialogue. There's the clincher. That's why we kept playing those games long after we'd looked up the improbable answers on gamefaqs. The main drive of any adventure game has to be its dialouge, first and foremost. The entire point of an adventure game is to click on various objects and see what the main character has to say about them, whether it's a smarmy 4th-wall breaking comment, or an in-depth explanation of in-game technology and logic.

Enter April Ryan.

The spunky female lead of Longest Journey doesn't fail to deliver. Whether she's commenting on the end of the world or a nifty house plant, she carries a consistently sarcastic and cynical tone that is instantly endearing and infinitely entertaining. It goes deeper than that, though. Sheís also got a lot of problems.

At key times throughout the game, April's sarcastic facade is challenged by events or other characters, and we get a glimpse at the April Ryan hiding underneath the witty dialouge. This is typical of the amount of depth put into the game. When April Ryan is left vulnerable, we genuinely feel pity for her, but along with it comes a sadistic interest in finding out what makes her tick. Put simply, The Longest Journey manages to be a very human game, dealing not with teenage super heroes who save the world without batting an eye, but with a very real person, someone who is not only resistant to face her destiny, but someone who is often very frightened of what she's encountering. Someone whose life will forever be changed, and maybe not in a good way.

In the days of yesteryear, adventure games relied mostly on exaggerated characters in exaggerated situations, surviving on the merits of their wit and often Douglas Adams-inspired ability to fudge their way through the most dire of circumstances. The Longest Journey moves away from this, choosing instead to focus on a more realistic story with more realistic characters. At the same time, it doesn't forget its obligation to entertain its audience, and as a result strikes a good balance between humour and realism. The moments when the two collide in a sort've new-wave dark satire are some of the greatest in the game, and refreshing in a genre that followed a fairly standard formula for its method of story telling.

The meat of the game is wonderful, and the wrapping is equally gorgeous. The graphics are beautiful, even for today's standards, and the sheer range of the designs is impressive, covering both fantasy and cyberpunk in the best mixture of the genre that I've seen since Final Fantasy 7. The music is remarkable, as well, featuring orchestral arrangements that can only be described as intensely enigmatic, leaving one with only a vague sense of their intentions, but oddly fitting for every scene it accompanies. The voice acting is impressive, especially in a piece that's so varied and yet requires such precision.

The only area Longest Journey suffers is in the puzzle element. Aside from a couple bizarrely tricky curve balls, every puzzle is pretty straightforward and easily solved. Half of the time it's the old "use the right item on the right area" adventure game standby. The rest of the time, you progress simply by exhausting your conversation choices. Yet despite this, you won't find yourself taken out of the experience at all, or even really noticing. It's a testament to the amazing script, story, and voice acting that you'll actually WANT to hear what everyone has to say about everything and the flow of the game feels completely natural.

Which is good, because there is certainly a lot to do. The game (true to its name) is long, clocking in at about 25-30 hours. Keep in mind that since there are no side quests or alternate paths, this is 30 hours of pure story and environment and, amazingly, none of it is wasted. Every screen and every character has something unique to add to the player's understanding of the game world, making The Longest Journey one of the more immersive games of its time.

If you haven't played it, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. While it doesn't offer much in terms of gameplay, it's one of the best stories and original worlds you'll encounter. You'll come away loving the characters, the setting, and the developers for bringing it all to life. This is one for the ages.

Rating: 10/10

zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (October 25, 2008)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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EmP posted October 25, 2008:

I have not yet played Longest Jounrny, despite owning it for two or three years and despite beating, loving (and reviewing) Dreamfall. You're not helping me stay away from the game any.

Great review.
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zippdementia posted October 25, 2008:

And I thought it was WAAAAY better than Dreamfall. Why haven't you played this yet?

*glares

Anyways, glad I did the game justice ^_^
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Halon posted October 25, 2008:

Haha I was thinking about reviewing this game for the Alphabetolympics. Change of plans!

Great game and great review. Some of the puzzles were dumb but I agree with most of it (probably a 9/10 from me). Too bad Dreamfall sucked.
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Genj posted October 25, 2008:

I agree. Great game and review. Longest Journey didn't live up to all the praise it gets for me, but it's still a really great graphic adventure.
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zippdementia posted October 25, 2008:

I was torn on whether to give it a 9 or a 10. Usually I don't give out 10's unless a game got everything perfect. But I will also give a 10 for a game that does one of the following:

- pushes its genre forward (a REAL push forward)
- has an element (or multiple elements) that are so good they simply decimate any issues the game has

I think Longest Journey doesn't really fit into the first one, but it definitely falls into the second. For me, the lack of good puzzles was completely unnoticeable in practice. Plus, it's a game I can revisit time and time again without ever tiring of the story. April Ryan for teh win!
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Lewis posted October 26, 2008:

Longest Journey is a wonderful, wonderful grower.

I remember someone I know awarding it 73% for one publication on release. He now repeatedly refers to it as one of the greatest games in the world. I can totally see why that happened.

I would like to marry April please.
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Halon posted October 26, 2008:

It's still probably my third favorite graphic adventure after Sam & Max and Day of the Tentacle. Some of the puzzles were kinda lame but the game is still a 9/10. The powerful story and characters more than made up for it.
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EmP posted October 26, 2008:

Fine! I'll play the stupid game!

And I liked Dreamfall. You should all stop liking this review and go read the one I wrote on that.

Off you go.
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zippdementia posted October 26, 2008:

I have this feeling I wrote a Dreamfall review... now where did I put it...
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aschultz posted July 28, 2009:

I was going to print a detailed critique re: your 1-for-2 trade offer, then I saw a topic was already up. On reading others' comments, I think that there is a lot of space for saying why this game is replayable, and maybe that could be covered with what you can cut.

I generally am very loose with my critiques, looking for "what can we do better" rather than just trying to be a TA and grading things. It's opened up possibilities in my own writing and I hope it works for you too. Yes, it's hypocritical because it can be edited, but I think a relaxed tone can work with editing--especially since it allows for stuff that might only have a 25% chance of being modified, but it's worth briefly checking off on.

Anyway, here goes............

sort've gack!

seem to have drawn to a fairly decisive close this is waffling. Besides I see freeware games that are labors of love. But thereís no big business.

Sentence starting Granted can be pared, too

Quoting Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island right after the impossible puzzles is bad juxtaposition. These were fun and weird. Maybe even the unconventionally weird games ran out of ways to be weird? I donít know, maybe Y2K didnít kill much but adventure games sure died after it? though that doesnít fit with the tone of the review. At any rate I agree itís sad how quickly the adventure game genre got relegated and I like having quick fun games to play through.

Dialouge -> dialogue

In any case, <- I think itís good to have some sense of wonder why it collapsed, but this is a red-flag phrase that can be ditched.

I picked up the game on a whim, myself. <- I think this is borderline, because talking about how you got the game can be dangerous. Especially By the time I had finished playing it Ė I imagine the reviews for it came out first? If so how does that reflect how critical success doesnít turn into financial success or even a secret?

Usually a review starts breaks the 4th wall of the review too much, and youíre trying to do more than gimmicks so it doesnít work. Maybe you can say Longest Journey tries to redo storytelling with something too complex to describe at first. If that last bit sounds is also a bit jarring. Maybe say Company X mentions that April goes to Y locations and talks to Z characters. More fourth wall stuff that jars me a bit.

But this itself I find odd! There are 200 populated locations but only 50 characters. Are one-quarter of the inhabitants mimes? Also, what sort of world do you go through? Maybe it is not quite this or not quite that. A sentence describing what it tries to blend would be better than I canít tell you. Maybe you can mention something like, do spoilers ruin the game because making mistakes is legitimately fun? Is this related to Aprilís sarcasm below?

The main drive of any adventure game has to be its dialouge, first and foremost. The entire point of an adventure game is to click on various objects and see what the main character has to say about them. Well, dialouge typo again, and first and foremost can go. I donít think the entire point is to click on various objectsóit is a big point. Maybe you should say what is strong about the dialogue? And isnít what the character says about an object monologue? How important is monologue vs dialogue in Longest Journey? Perhaps you could mention earlier that Aprilís sarcastic take on the [epic/ordinary/fantasy-based] parts of Longest Journeyís world is refreshing because x/y/z.

instantly endearing and infinitely entertaining alliteration a bit forced here I think

exaggerated characters in exaggerated situations repetition too soonóexagg char and situ

In the days of yesteryear, adventure games relied mostly on exaggerated characters in exaggerated situations, surviving on the merits of their wit and often Douglas Adams-inspired ability to fudge their way through the most dire of circumstances. The Longest Journey moves away from this, This is a bit too literary a shift from the previous bits, so you may have to touch it up or just say April is not exaggerated, though, and she does not fudge her way through situations. Iím also not clear on how realistic Longest Journey is, or tries to be.

The meat of the game not quite The gameplay but close in my book.

Put simply, The Longest Journey manages to be a very human game, dealing not with teenage super heroes who save the world without batting an eye, but with a very real person, someone who is not only resistant to face her destiny, but someone who is often very frightened of what she's encountering. Someone whose life will forever be changed, and maybe not in a good way.

Well, Monkey Island doesnít have a teenage superhero either. Also put simply followed by such a long sentence is incongruous. Also what sheís encountering/someone is a thing/person mis-match. a very real person, someone who not only hesitates to face her destiny but also how she may change othersí. Is how Iíd change it.

All this cutting seems to leave room for some detail. I donít know what. The right ones could unlock even bigger questions without spoiling the story. Thatíd be up to you.

The meat of the game is wonderful, and the wrapping is equally gorgeous. The graphics are beautiful, even for today's standards, and the sheer range of the designs is impressive, 4 passive verbs in a row. Then you have the good part after it. Focus on expanding. Plus thereís an awkward transition to this paragraph I canít give advice on how to rectify.

The music is remarkable, as well, featuring The music features remarkable Ö etc (passive voice)

The game (true to its name) is long, for an adventure game, clocking in at about 25-30 hours. Keep in mind that since there are no side quests or alternate paths, this is 30 hours of pure story and environment and, amazingly, none of it is wasted. About 25-30 is overkill on the estimation bit. Keep in mind is a throwaway phrase when you never told us that in the firstplace. How does the lack of side quests/alternate paths manage to avoid seeming like linearity? Can you track backwards? Is that why you want to look at every object? clocking in should also go.

understanding of the game world, I know what youíre saying but this clanks. You will want to look at and understand the X, the Y or the Z.

If you want to be semi-pretentious maybe you can tie in Shelleyís Longest and Dreariest Journey poem. Is the title from that poem? Forsterís novel? That might be something to fit in.

Though youíre trying to establish an epic sort of feel, maybe some details would be nice. Is the journey across continents? Through towns? Does it return? Is it in a replica of the world or somewhere else entirely? Do you go off into space?
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zippdementia posted July 28, 2009:

Thank you for the extensive comments, Aschultz! As per my agreement, please send me two reviews you'd like me to look at (I would suggest making one of them your upcoming choice for the TT).

Wow, I hope my spelling and grammar have gotten better since I wrote this! Probably the biggest thing you caught is the thing I'm most dissatisfied with in this review, which is the fact that I get very excited about very little. By that, I mean to say that I should really, as you say, give more examples as to what is exactly epic about this game, so I don't sound nuts. Your comments have inspired me to do a brief rewrite of this, so expect to see something up at some point in the near future.

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