The Journey Down is a puzzle-based, adventure point-and-click game developed and published by Skygoblin. It is an episodic game meaning that it will be released in a few parts or episodes rather that in one large game. In the case of The Journey Down, it will be released in four parts. The first part, Chapter One, is a high definition remake of the freeware game The Journey Down: Over the Edge released previously.
The game opens up on two thugs entering a university in search of a certain professor and a very important piece of literature. Their target is missing however there is a clue left behind as to where the book can be found. The game switches to Gas and Charter, a dockside gas station for passing boats that is lacking business and recently has had their power shut off. Restoring the power is the first task that you, playing as a character named Bwana, will try to solve. It is never made clear what race or species the characters are meant to be, though every character speaks with a distinct Caribbean or Jamaican accent and slang. Bwana is also made out to be a well-meaning and fun loving fool who is not too bright. A mysterious lady shows up asking for a book that had belonged to the owner of the station before he mysteriously left. Once the book is found, you and your friend Kito jump at the opportunity to help this lady get out of town fast to avoid those hunting the same book. The only problem is that your seaplane has not flown in decades and is in disrepair. Not wanting to lose the business, you must find the necessary parts to fix the plane which will take up the remainder of this first episode. Sounds simple right? Wrong. To find the needed pieces, you must complete various puzzles by observing each stage and clicking on the various items and people that you need.
The puzzles can range from those that are extremely obvious and all of the actions can be done on the one stage, to much more complex puzzles that will require outside of the box thinking and creativity. Often times you will have to think like the main character because some of the solutions to the puzzles will not be obvious or even make complete sense right away. This aspect was both fascinating and frustrating at the same time. The design allowed for a very challenging puzzle game, often causing the player to solve smaller puzzles in order to obtain a piece to solve a larger puzzle and so on and so forth. This often led to a frustrating time of clicking on everything in sight and stumbling upon the solution by pure accident. What I can say is that, after a while, you start to think more like Bwana and the puzzles are ever so slightly easier to piece together.
The graphic element of this game, for lack of a better term, was confusing. It’s hard to explain what exactly the game looks like but it’s sort of like Team Fortress 2 mixed with 3D modeling and hand painted set pieces for the backgrounds. However, it seemed to work for this game. For any other game I do not think the style would have made sense, but for the style of game that the Journey Down is, it just worked. The animation was fairly consistent though there were times where it seemed rough and often times the mouth of the characters did not match the vocals. Obviously I do not mean that I expected perfect facial animation and muscle movement, but often times the mouth would start moving before the vocals started or stop after the vocals stopped and vice versa. This was not a major concern however because most of the game was not based on close up vocal sequences. One aspect that I did really enjoy was the voice overs and the voice acting. The characters all had very believable voices for their character traits and the voices were not annoying or distracting from the game as vocals can be. In fact the voices were most entertaining and added to the humorous nature of the dialogue. I must greatly commend the voice actors on their work
One thing that I questioned was the decision to release the game in four parts. Though the actual puzzle solving took some good amount of time and thought to complete, the actual plot contained within Part One was not very extensive. It contained the opening university scene as described and then there was little else after you found all of the parts for the plane and fixed it. Even though the design seems to be a puzzle game that happens to have a story, the story still seemed too short to warrant it being its own release title. This is only part one of four, so it is possible that this game was meant to start out the story and that later parts will include more of a plot to go along with the puzzles.
My recommendation for this game is check it out if you really like puzzle games. If that is a genre you enjoy then you should enjoy this game as well and it may be a good challenge for you. I personally would consider playing the rest of series but I would probably wait until all episodes were released so that they could be played back to back and the entire story could be experienced without long pauses in the middle. Then again, the game is based on its puzzles, not its story. There is also a certain sense of humor and comedy in the game that made it enjoyable even though it was often frustrating, which is not necessarily a bad thing.