Release Date: all episodes are out
Price as of Article:
Episode One: $9.99 USD, £8.99 GBP
Episode Two & Three: $19.99 USD, £17.99 GBP each
Marketing a game is always a challenge. We players have to be aware of a title and with so much of variety, we can get easily overwhelmed in the huge ocean of games we face nowadays. Sometimes, the love for a genre makes us cross paths with a particular game. Some other times, it might be the graphics or even nostalgic feelings of a classic from our childhood. In my case, it was kind of mixed.
First, I love point-and-click games. They have been my favourite for years always fighting with Visual Novels and RPGs for the throne. Directly after that, we have the thrill of adventure and platforming games that always make my thumbs restless. Any idea why I wanted The Journey Down so bad? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but you are wrong for sure. I requested that Juan request a review copy of the game because of a character’s name.
Kito, one of the protagonists, shares the name with a cat I used to own and love. I had never ever seen that name anywhere else so far in the gaming industry, so I had to get to know Kito at all costs. Silly reason? Maybe. But I do not regret my actions, and if you want to find out why, please continue reading and have a blast with my review for The Journey Down!
Point-and-click games are story-driven, so I am pleased to write a little bit more than I typically do in the story sections of my reviews. Of course, I will not be too specific about it and will leave out parts that take part in the later episodes.
Speaking of episodes, The Journey Down is divided in three. The first one is takes place in Kingsport Bay which is an area where Bwana and Kito both grew up. Being adopted by a generous man having a tongue-twisting name, Kaonandodo, was their ticket from living on the streets. After he mysteriously disappeared many years ago, the full-grown men now run a gas station to maintain their lifestyle. Struggling with bills, the St. Armando Power Company is not the only one oppressing the two easy-going souls here. Little do both Bwana and Kito know is that a lady called Lina is about to step into their life. She is the key to going on a journey to places far from home and, at the same time, getting closer to finding the tracks that Captain Kaonandodo had left behind.
The Journey Down is an example of a classic point-and-click adventure. For beginners: you need to scan the current scene you are given and find objects you can interact with. Speaking with people and interacting with the environment helps you connect the things you had picked up and progress in the story. You need to be urged a little to explore and will need a little patience. I cannot deny that. But, it feels very satisfying to pick things up and find the answer to a puzzle all by yourself.
Making that easy are definitely the controls. The three episodes of The Journey Down can be either controlled by using the touchscreen when you play in handheld mode or with some simple controls.
You move the cursor with the left analogue stick. If the speed is too slow for you, you can actually make it move faster (or slower) by pressing ZR (fast) or ZL (slow). X opens the inventory, and if you select an object with L or R and press Y, you will inspect that item.
A is the button of choice if you want to speed up the conversation. I would not recommend it though since the voice acting is very authentic here. But, the same button also helps you interact with people or objects. Double tapping A on a red arrow will skip the movement of Bwana across the environment to the next screen. + brings up the pause menu while B is used to cancel something. Pretty easy, right?
To save, exit your game or change settings, simply place your cursor over the top-bottom of the screen. A little scroll down menu will appear revealing the extra options to you. Moving it to the bottom will bring up the inventory. Taking one item out of it to combine it with another piece in your bag is also not difficult. Drag that object and drop it on the desired location, either it being another thing in the inventory or a place around you.
To get the fullest experience out of The Journey Down, I recommend you go through all the available dialogues. The ones that are important will remain after you had read them, so you can come back to them later if you want or need to. The player is able to skip through most all of the text, and only the most important scenes cannot be cut short.
After you have completed an episode, you will unlock a section called “Behind the scenes” which gives you nice little details of the game and the development process. I am quite fond of that bit and was happy that the Skygoblin team kept them in the game.
A nice little thing to mention is that the trilogy was fully localized in German! Yes, ladies and gentleman, you can enjoy the game in both English and German! No other languages are available, though. For the sake of the review and the screen captions (additional to my personal preferences), I played it in English. I did not test the translated version, but since we are an English speaking site, that is nothing too dramatic, right? Having full confidence in the devs, I am sure it will be fine.
Overall, the game was nice to play, and I enjoyed the humour of the entire game. It reminded me of other titles of the same genre, and I just loved that fact. As a die-hard fan of point-and-click games, this had melted my heart pretty quickly, making my Switch’s battery drain in no time. Bwana is your main character, and his sidekick Kito compliments him very well. Lina is a nice female addition to the duo.
All of the characters have their charm, and I certainly would have loved to play as them too when the occasion was given. Sadly, The Journey Down does not give players that opportunity, and that is something that might have added more depth to the game. Adding that with some slight path options would have given you a higher replay value here.
The soundtrack for The Journey Down is awesome. You have a rich variety of songs that fit into the game perfectly. The point-and-click adventure is full of jazzy tunes with some Reggae influence and is composed by Simon D’souza and Jamie Salisburg. Simon D’souza was a great multi-instrumentalist (and much more), so I would like to honour him in my review as well by mentioning him. He had worked on the soundtrack for the first and second episode, and I am glad to learn of him thanks to The Journey Down.
Unfortunately, Simon was diagnosed with a brain tumour in August 2012. He suggested Jamie to the team as the one to take on the task of composing the music so he could concentrate on his health. This award-winning composer picked up the stunning work of his friend and finalized it with his orchestral style.
Simon D’souza passed away on May 19th, 2014, but his music and talent will shine forever in The Journey Down and other projects.
Giving the soundtrack some love is something I am very fond of and cannot stretch enough. Sorry for getting on your nerves, readers, but I love a good game music. It just pours so much more life into a game and compliments the graphics so well. The fact that the original soundtrack is available on bandcamp as well as all the proceeds go to charity is even more awesome.
The version for PC had some slight hiccups for some users as I had researched. The Switch port does not have any delays or skips. The only problem I experienced was some voices were louder than others on some rare occasions. I have no idea if the recording of one skit of a character was poorly recorded or not, but sadly this happened in the PC and was not fixed in the Switch port.
Hopefully, there will be a patch in the near future, but since I do not know of any for the Steam version, I will not raise my hopes too much. The developer actually reached out to the fans in a forum on Steam (Entry No. 14) addressing the issues of fixing that issue and being aware of the problems but also stated that it might not be an easy thing to polish up. I want to sympathize that it really happened quite rare and did not destroy the fun I had with the amazing voice acting.
Considering the voice actors, you can actually see the love the developer put into that. Every face behind the characters is shown and can be uncovered when finishing the second episode. Curious how the cast looks like? Well, then you have to hurry up and play the game! I am not going to spoil the fun for you here!
Visuals and Performance
The first look at The Journey Down indicates an Afro-Carribean vibe. Many of the characters were actually inspired by African masks. Taking them from many parts from Western Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and more, it was fun to see them translated into the game very well. The design for all of the characters are quite unique. Bwana’s and Kito’s designs were almost completely faithful to the ones shown in the “Behind the scenes” section.
I love the colours and the environment overall. The Journey Down has such a different style, and it makes it fun to look at. Taking place in some sort of gloomy town and later on at an island paradise, the atmosphere is always right and on point.
The little issue I had, but that is a very personal point and more important for the players that English is their second language, were the placement of the subtitles. They were clearly visible even though the text was white, but sometimes they had been placed a bit weird. I am aware this will not affect the big part of the audience and I am nitpicking here, but I wanted to point that out either way.
Most of the time, the in-game animations run at 15 fps. Honestly, you can see that. The cut scenes are not the best, but considering the game is quite old, you can quite understand and forgive that. The first, low-resolution release of chapter one was in August 2010, and the game still looks good on the latest Nintendo console.
No game breaking issues or anything else occurred in chapter one to three!
The value section will be a little bit different here since this point-and-click comes in three parts. Part one has a price tag of $9.99 USD / £8.99 GBP, the other two following are at $19.99 USD / £17.99. Calculating that, you have a total price of a whooping $49.97 USD / £44.97 GBP. Honestly, that made me clench my teeth a little, and let me tell you shortly why so.
Further research has told me that Steam has an offer for 20% off of the whole package. You get episodes one to three for the same price there, even though that bundle does not exist for the Switch (yet). The game is a great experience, and I can understand why it is so highly priced. Years of development went into the game, and the overall deal is worth it. I am “just” not a fan of such high-priced digital copies, but that is me and is no real strong point for why I think it is overpriced.
Normally, I absolutely hate to make references to another game in my reviews because the title has to shine and the spotlight is reserved for it completely. Investing about 15 hours into the game is something I do not regret and do not want to miss. But, and here it comes, Thimbleweed Park also tied me in front of my TV for 18+ hours and has a high replay value. Being frugal, I am always aware of saving pennies. Also. even my holy grail Thimbleweed Park with $19.99 USD / £14.99 GBP was too expensive for me at first, and I waited for a sale.
I would suggest you try out the first episode of The Journey Down for $9.99 / £8.99 GBP. See if you like it and make the plunge afterwards if you are not as much of a money saver I like to be. You will not regret it, but I would have been more comfortable recommending the titles to you if it had motivated you to replay it (like Thimbleweed Park does, sorry for the reference again). The length of my review has proven how much in love I am with the title, but I passionately love the genre. Players with other preferences might not be that overly fond of the title as I am which I highly consider while writing those lines found here.
Gorgeous soundtrack & voice acting
Solid story and great humour
High price for low to no replay value
Some slight performance issues