Review by Jen
I dislike "conversation games." Discworld Noir, the
Broken Sword games ... many games that most players consider
classics just didn't appeal to me much because of all the yakking.
There is nothing I would less rather do than click endlessly on
a conversation tree and watch the characters onscreen contract repetitive
Why, then, did I fall in love with The Longest Journey? It
certainly is a "conversation game." And the characters
onscreen do repeat their very limited range of motions ad infinitum
as they converse. By all rights, I should not have liked this game
very much, but the fact is, I enjoyed it more than any other game
I have ever played, and I mean ever! And that's saying quite
Perhaps it is because of the story. You play as April Ryan, an
18-year-old girl on the threshold of womanhood. April is unwillingly
thrust into the position of saving the world, and as she undertakes
her tasks, she takes that final step and learns to accept responsibility
not only for herself but for the fate of mankind. And this is but
one of the many story threads that run through the game.
A general overview: Many millennia ago, the world was split into
two parts, Stark for technology and logic and Arcadia for magic.
Each of the halves is separate from and completely ignorant of the
other, except in legends. There is a carefully maintained balance
between the two halves of the world, and the balance begins to crumble.
April learns that she is able to "shift," through her
dreams at first, between these two worlds. She must set right little
imbalances in both worlds in an effort to stave off impending chaos.
She soon discovers, though, that it is up to her to correct the
greater imbalance or both worlds will be doomed.
The story is very rich and deep. There are many subplots, and great
attention was paid to detail. There are even religions and mythologies
for each of the worlds, and although this is a fantasy game, the
whole story becomes very believable. Sucked me right in, I'll tell
you. And even though your character cannot die, there were some
truly frightening moments, and I was crying my fool head off at
the end of the game. (Speaking of which, the ending is quite satisfyingnice
and long and wraps things up.)
Maybe I liked The Longest Journey so well because of its
beauty. The backgrounds, both in Stark and Arcadia, are absolutely
lovely. Far and away the prettiest game I have ever seen. Just take
a look at the screenshots to get an idea for yourself. And the cutscenes
... oh, the cutscenes. Mere screenshots cannot convey their beauty.
Remember those Roger Dean pictures on the album covers (back in
the olden days) of the band "Yes"? The backgrounds in
The Longest Journey brought those to mind.
The characters are 3D overlaid on 2D backgrounds. As such, the
characters do suffer occasionally from 3D syndrome; i.e., not enough
polygons in some cases, visible polygons, invisible limbs from time
to time, bigger pixels than the rest of the screen ... but this
is really a very teeny weakness when measured against the game as
Perhaps it was the voice acting that made me love The Longest
Journey. This was not one of those cases where the developer's
office staff doubled as actorsthe actors in The Longest
Journey did an admirable job in lending personality to the characters
and making them interesting. In fact, the characters seemed alive.
Even the many ancillary characters were perfect.
Why is it though, that every developer of a high-caliber game feels
the need to include an obnoxious sidekick? I do, however, believe
myself alone in disliking these characters to such an extent. For
instance, Glottis in Grim FandangoI hated him; the
rest of the world thought he was the proverbial cat's PJs. Arthur
in the Journeyman Project gameshe was so annoying.
(The current crop of TV situation comedies is no betterthe
fad du jour seems to be to include a peripheral character with a
strange voice. If they don't start out with one, they write one
in before too long. Drives me up the friggin' wall and makes me
not watch much TV (not that I did before anyway). I mean, think
about itin real life, we may meet one or two people over the
course of our entire lives with really weird voices, and yet it
is an everyday occurrence in the sitcom world. End of rantyou
have to excuse me; sometimes I get a little carried away.) The
Longest Journey is no exception. The sidekick is simply awful.
Not the voice-acting, just the character itself. I implore all you
game developers out there ... quit with the damned sidekicks already!
The music in The Longest Journey was movie-quality. It really
worked on my emotions in all the right spots at all the right times.
The sound effects were great, too.
The puzzles are completely organic. Mostly they can be solved using
common sense, or at least the common sense that would apply in whatever
world you are. You don't have to try every inventory item on everything
else; if you have selected the correct inventory item, it will flash
when you hover it over the item you wish to use it on. The puzzles
are sometimes baffling but never unfair, and this is one game that,
with a little persistence on the part of the player, can be completed
without using a walkthrough. You will never be stymied for very
I have figured out why I liked the game as much as I did: The
Longest Journey is a magnum opus. Even though it does have some
small flaws and a couple of things I would change, it is absolutely
breathtaking in all respects. All of the individual elements are
blended together into an awesome whole. The environments are alive,
I cared for the characters ... all in all, the outside world was
completely shut out by the little world on my monitor. My peripheral
vision ceased to exist. My kids got ten thousand "shaddups"
and "go aways" and "outta my faces" as I played.
And those conversations I talked about earlier? They only serve
to move the game along; there is no unnecessary gabbing like in
Discworld Noir just to fit in a few extra jokes.
They just don't get any better than this.
Publisher (English): Empire
Release Date: April 2000
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium 200 MHz (PII 266 MHz recommended)
32 MB free system RAM (64 MB recommended)
DirectX-supported graphic card with 2 MB onboard memory (640×480)
(4 MB recommended)
Windows-compatible sound card
200 MB free hard disk space (1 GB recommended)
4X CD-ROM drive (8X recommended)
Where to Find It
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