12th Sep2019

‘The Long Journey Home’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

journey-home-switch-cover

A space adventure with a focus on crew and fuel / resource management, The Long Journey Home is an interesting and detailed title but seems to focus on the more mundane aspects of itself which makes the exploration of space more of a chore than it perhaps should be.

Beginning with your crew selection, The Long Journey Home sees our intrepid adventurers sent far into deep space and needing to make their way back by meeting other alien races, collecting fuel and resources and well…trying to survive by any means possible.

A game that sounds grand in scope actually ends up feeling quite basic when the game play reveals itself. Travel around space is dealt with by planning the navigation of your ship (represented as an arrow on a grid-based background) towards the atmosphere of the nearby planets which you can then visit and search. This section of the game, however turns from a trajectory-planning map overlay to a 2D Gravity Force / Thrust-based mini-game with the threat coming mainly from the weather of the planet that you land on. Each of these planets is represented by a scroll-looped plain which requires delicate precision to land on without damaging your lander or wasting precious fuel. Following this, you may have some random encounters which can vary vastly between good and bad to add spice, as well as the need to maintain your crew but the primary game loop is travelling to a planet, scavenging what you can and moving on.

journey-home-screen

Whilst this makes sense, the execution of it, as well-presented as it is, feels a bit thin. I never got the sense that I was exploring undiscovered worlds or that I was fully in control of everything. Instead it felt like I was playing a selection of mini-games with no overarching hold. Personally, I’m not overly drawn to the space genre and the procedural generation used made me feel like the failures were not my fault as I wasn’t given the tools to succeed in certain runs. Which I can see the challenge and appeal of this in a design choice, it worked against my enjoyment.

I do get the sense that the game will really appeal to certain people who like the idea of the classic inertia-based ‘Thrust’ landing sections and who would get more out of the travel , planet weather readouts and more technical aspects of the game etc. but for me, there wasn’t enough of a sense of exploration or adventure to keep me coming back for more.

It’s quite an idiosyncratic experience overall and feels like it plays to a niche crowd so I’d definitely watch a few game play videos or try out a demo, if possible before purchasing as it feels a very ‘marmite’ game to me.

The Long Journey Home is available on the Nintendo Switch now from Daedalic Entertainment.

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