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The Longest Journey (PC) artwork

The Longest Journey (PC) review

" About a week ago, I got introduced to The Longest (-winded) Journey, which people told me was the best point-and-click adventure game ever made, and that I would instantly love it the second I began playing it. So I downloaded it, installed it, and played about halfway through. What I found is that The Longest Journey definitely lives up to its name, but that it definitely is NOT the god-adventure I was told it would be, and is DEFINITELY not the best adventure game of all time. "

About a week ago, I got introduced to The Longest (-winded) Journey, which people told me was the best point-and-click adventure game ever made, and that I would instantly love it the second I began playing it. So I downloaded it, installed it, and played about halfway through. What I found is that The Longest Journey definitely lives up to its name, but that it definitely is NOT the god-adventure I was told it would be, and is DEFINITELY not the best adventure game of all time.

TLJ's gameplay is pretty much your standard point-and-click fare. I will admit that the menus are slightly less annoying to use than in some other games (ROBERTA WILLIAMS, I AM LOOKING AT YOU WHEN I SAY THIS) in that you can do pretty much any action to an item just by clicking it and there's only one or two of those spots that are really freaking hard to click in the entire game. Puzzle difficulty is roughly normal, with only a few that have completely nonsensical and/or obtuse solutions (seriously what the fuck how am I supposed to know that throwing a calculator at an evil wizard kills him). There aren't any items you can miss as far as I know - although one or two fall under that “obtuse puzzle” category.

The plot is quite literally XBox huge. Prior to playing TLJ I was certain that either Morrowind or Oblivion had set the world record for most text in a single game. I was horribly, horribly wrong. The Longest Journey is so long mostly because it has TEXT EVERYWHERE. Even NPCs that you will only ever speak to once have pages and pages of dialog. The NPCs also like to ramble for long periods of time about things with lots of apostrophes in their names (“GREETINGS, I AM THE AWK'WA'R'BA'K VICE PRESIDENT OF DUR'P'HU'R'P'DE'RPISTAN, PLEASE, LET ME SING YOU THE SONG OF MY PEOPLE”). At times I felt like I was playing through a Tim Buckley comic as some kind of sick, twisted punishment for hating Final Fantasy 7. Fortunately, there's right-click and the escape button, both of which enable you to skip the many long-winded dialogs about nothing. And trust me, you WILL be using right-click. I tried not to until about the second chapter when I began wishing I had a device that would kick the game's developers in the balls every time a sentence contained more than one apostrophe. If you can ignore the pointless rambling and only keep up with the main plot, it's quite entertaining (not to mention it lasts like 30 hours). The one thing that's absolutely loveable about it is the characters (particularly those in the big city) actually swear instead of talking like Mormons, up to and including telling each other to fuck themselves (something I wasn't even aware had been done in a game prior to about 2003). Unfortunately, I can't really divulge too many details (other than that your character's name is April Ryan, no relation to Jack or Andrew) without completely ruining the plot.

If there's one point at which I'd have to say TLJ makes a huge downfall, it would be the horrendously ugly graphics. Normally this isn't something I would judge on - after all, my favorite game is Earthbound. Normally with an adventure game, you either leave the characters so generic that people are forced to fill them in with the imagination, or make it very clear what they look like (Monkey Island and most other LucasArts games as an example). With TLJ, the developers have PSX-era models (think Final Fantasy 7) accompanied by THE WORST FMVs I HAVE EVER SEEN, EVER. April goes from being what looks like a moderately attractive teenage female to some kind of mutant with a face that looks like it was run over by an eighteen-wheeler who hit it and then decided to back over it to end its suffering, only to drive over it again in some kind of bizarre mercy killing ritual. It's kind of hard to imagine how you could fail at CGI FMVs - seriously, look at the ones Blizzard put into Starcraft and Warcraft 3, which still look passable today. It's hard to understand WHY they bothered putting the FMVs in in the first place. Seriously, these FMVs would have sucked even for 1999. However, the non-FMV graphics are pretty neat-looking, especially the main city, Newport. Newport is a half-Bioshock, half-Anachronox, half-Broken Sword monstrosity (and yes, I'm well aware all but one of those games came out after TLJ) of a city that clearly had good art direction - although it would have been a million times better done in modern graphics.

The other part that irks me is the voiceacting. Half of it is good - most of the human characters had at least decent VAs - particularly April who sounds something between Etna from the original release of Disgaea 1 and Leela from Futurama. Then you start getting into the non-human characters. Again, most of them sound alright.. until you meet the Alatians. The Alatians are a race of bird people, who ALL SOUND LIKE LEVAR BURTON. EVEN THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN. I can't even begin to describe the horrible images that filled my head the second I heard them talk (seriously the thought of a species of Levar Burton lookalikes roaming the plains and complaining about warp tubes makes me shudder).

My last comment about The Longest Journey is about stability, or the lack thereof. TLJ isn't fully compatible with Windows XP/Vista or with multi-core processors. I experienced quite a few crashes, most having to do with when I started alt-tabbing (TLJ is EXTREMELY unfriendly to alt-tabbing). However, once or twice I had the game mysteriously crash on me every time I'd try to visit certain areas too early. The other problem is that the game has three versions - the 4CD, the 2CD, and the DVD. The DVD version is the only one that works at all with XP/Vista, and requires a patch to work with multicore processors. You CAN buy it on Steam.. although it's a bit overpriced.

The Longest Journey gets an 8/10 from me, largely based on how far the main plot and unique art design carry it. It managed to keep me busy for at least a few days, and is probably worth a playthrough.

timrod's avatar
Community review by timrod (December 30, 2008)

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EmP posted January 01, 2009:

Turns out, we do not allow drama on HG.

I've never actually played Longest Journey despite owning it forever -- which seems to be something I say a lot about a lot of games -- but I still enjoyed this review. I don't think I'll agree with it, but who knows? I did love Dreamfall and all TLJ fans seem to bag on that all the time.
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zippdementia posted January 01, 2009:

Whoa... did all the messages get deleted? That... doesn't make sense, unless I missed something outrageous.

The last comment I made was made in jest, so I hope I didn't inadvertently spark a flame war...
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Lewis posted January 02, 2009:

Erm, yeah, what was wrong with this thread? Last I saw, it was just me and Zipp saying we disagreed with the review.
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2009:

Well, I reread the review, and some things still don't sit right with me.

I repeat, blaming a game for not running on XP or Vista is like blaming the yummy bagel for being burnt in your toaster. The problem is XP, not the game.

Also, the voice acting complaint... you complain about ONE area where the game seems to suffer (though if I recall, the bird people speak with one voice for a reason), and then claim it as a huge issue.

Finally, you give the game an 8 despite writing a pretty negative review. There's just no continuity to this review, and I'm just not sure what you were trying to say.
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Lewis posted January 09, 2009:

I haven't played TLJ for years, but I don't remember the voice acting grating in the slightest, anywhere.
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2009:

I actually think it's one of the best voice acted games in video game history. But then, that can be said of a lot of Adventure Games. The VA is such an important part of that genre.

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