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I want to preface this review by saying that I am not a big fan of point and click adventures but I did love both Grim Fandango and The Dig when I was a kid, and since I'd heard this game spoken about very fondly by quite a few people so I thought I'd try it out.
First thing you will notice when you are playing this game is that it looks like no other, in terms of implementation but most definitely in terms of setting. The locations, the worlds that were created for this game are so beautiful and deep, for the first few hours I was totally immersed. Then the scales fell from my eyes, my frustration built and my wonderment wore off.
This is such a shame as I was, and still am, really interested to see how the plot pans out and to see what else this game has to offer. I just could not get past the moronic puzzles. There is no logic to them. No real world basis or sensible methodology to solve them. I suppose what you are supposed to do is endlessly try and combine everything with everything else until something happens, or look up the solution online. But then, I just dont see the point. You may as well just watch the LPs of it on youtube, you are a passenger, an observer. Playing the way they seem to want you to removes the game entirely. It is as if you are reading a book and they make you solve a rubiks cube blindfolded before you can turn to the next page.
As I said before I understand some irrationality and illogic is unavoidable in point and click adventures, but after I solved about five of these in a row (the contraption you need to build to remove an object from a rail line is truly insane) I just refused to go on.
A shame, but there you go.
Publisher: Tri Synergy
Year of release: 2000
'The Longest Journey' is what I consider by far the best Adventure game I've ever experienced. It really is outstanding in originality, intelligent writing, depth of gameplay and immersion. It's won numerous awards including IGN.com's Editor's Choice and their Best Adventure Game of 2000, PC Gamer's Editor's Choice, Computer Gaming's Editor's Choice, Gamespot's Game of the Year, and Gamespy's Best of 2000, and is number 18 on PC Gamer Magazine's Top 100 Games of All Time. So, quite a collection of accolades!
If you like point and click Adventure games and have not tried this one, you have a real treat in store for you. A cross between Science Fiction and Fantasy, it was released to not a lot of fanfare, and I actually didn't hear of this game until about three years after its release, when I read about it in one of the PC gaming magazines and became curious. They considered it the best Adventure game ever made and were waxing enthusiastically on its many qualities.
I became intrigued and decided I would try to find a copy, although I had some misgivings as the article explained that you play as a 17-year-old girl. This made me think it would probably be a bit girly and maybe a bit 'young' for my tastes - although a girl myself, I'm not a 'girly' girl, and I'll never see anywhere near 17 again.
Still, I bought a copy from the game's website, as I was unable to find it in any shops, and installed the two CDs. The box informed me that it is rated Mature 17+ and contained Strong Language. So, I guessed that it wouldn't be too overly girly or young.
So, I fired it up and was presented with an opening sequence of an old lady seated in an armchair in the sitting room of a rustic country cottage, with a young couple sitting nearby. The young couple ask her to tell them a story, one about something they refer to as 'The Balance', and the old lady begins to recount a tale, a 'story that begins where it ends'. This scene fades away and we are treated to some of the most beautiful fantasy artwork I've ever seen in a game, or anywhere for that matter. A glowing man is suspended in mid-air; a dragon is swallowing its own tail. We don't know yet know what these images represent.
Next we see a young woman in bed sleeping, and we see that she is having a strange dream. The bed fades away and she finds herself in a strange fantastic landscape. We now find that she is April Ryan, the character you play as. She seems to be alone, then finds that a tree nearby is inhabited by a nature spirit and it talks to her, telling her that it has been charged with protecting a very important egg in a nest in one of its branches. A huge white dragon arrives, and we learn that she is the mother of the egg. The dragon speaks to April: 'April, Daughter, I have been waiting for you,' it says in a gentle and fond voice. 'Waiting? Why?' April asks in bewilderment. 'Because it begins here, with you, as it always has,' the dragon says cryptically. 'I am the mother of what is, but you are the mother of what may be.'
However, a huge ball of what appears to be some sort of noxious matter suddenly appears in the sky above them, and sends everyone hurtling in different directions, April herself falling off a steep cliff. She wakes up in her bed, dazed and frantic at the strange nightmare she has just had.
But, was it just a nightmare? The next morning April resumes her usual everyday life as an Art student at the local University and working part-time in a local bar/café. She lives in a small town called Venice on the outskirts of a city called Newport. Venice is an artsy, Bohemian village made up of converted industrial buildings connected by a series of canals, and we find that it is about 200 years in the future from now, although student life and Bohemianism don't seem to have changed much in all that time! April has many good friends and seems a bright, level-headed girl, so when strange things start happening to her, such as seeing a hologram art sculpture of a dragon momentarily turn into a real dragon, or a strange small hairy creature playing a flute suddenly jump out of the jukebox in the bar where she works, she begins to doubt her sanity.
Then, to make things weirder, she meets a mysterious older Spanish man called Cortez. He is a very articulate and intriguing man, and tells her that he knows all about the dream she had and the strange waking experiences that she thought were hallucinations. He tells her that she has a very important mission ahead of her, and April now begins to doubt his sanity too. But at the same time, she feels strangely drawn to him.
By the time you arrive at this point, just minutes into the game after the initial nightmare sequence with the dragon, you will already be hooked and will desperately want to know what this is all about and what's in store for April. Both Cortez and the lady dragon have told her that she is someone of great importance, a crucial figure who has an important role to carry out. What could it be?
You will be taken on a long and absolutely fantastic journey that you will never want to end. Suffice to say that Cortez turns out to be a facilitator who enables April to travel between two different worlds - the one she knows, which is referred to as Stark, the world of science and logic, and Arcadia, the world of fantasy and magic. These two worlds both exist on Earth, but in two different dimensions. The ability to travel between the two worlds is called shifting, and very few people have the ability to shift, Cortez being one of them. It falls to Cortez to teach April how to do this, the purpose of which you will find out later. Arcadia is a beautiful, ancient world that you feel totally immersed in and actually find it disappointing when you have to shift back to Stark to carry out another of your goals. However, Arcadia is not without its problems, and there are many that you need to solve there.
This game has a massive number of characters, all of them very well-defined and individual, and you will become very fond of many of them. April herself is one of the best lead characters I've ever seen in any game - despite my initial misgivings of what this character might be like, they were completely wrong. She's smart, sassy, and can be very, very funny and also very, very strong and resourceful. A likeable, well-rounded character with a real 'can do' attitude. I can guarantee that when you finish 'The Longest Journey', you will really miss April and many of the other inhabitants of this fabulous game and its two worlds.
As mentioned, this is a point and click Adventure, so you literally click on where you want April to go, who you want her to interact with and what items you want her to use or pick up. The interface is well designed and easy to use. You have an inventory where you keep all the things you collect, a log of all the major conversations you've had, a video log of all major cutscenes as they occur, and 'April's Diary', in which she records her accounts of her experiences every day. So, the forgetful amongst us have lots of means to remind ourselves of any important events of which our memory is hazy!
And it's as well that you have these aide-memoires, because this is one heck of a complex, complicated story with many goals, many characters, many places to visit, many strange experiences to encounter - the richness of the writing, complexity of the story and depth of the gameplay is really second to none I've ever seen, the nearest being The Longest Journey's sequel (Dreamfall) and the classic FPS/RPG Deus Ex. The writing is superb, very deep, intelligent and even spiritual at times, with quite a few scenes that have actually moved me nearly to tears, yet the writers are also adept at including really wacky and off the wall humour that will have you chortling in front of your PC screen
Graphically, it's stunning. By that I don't mean that it has the most up-to-date, impressive photorealistic 3D graphics - after all, it was made in 2000, and is a 2D game - but that the artwork in this game is truly beautiful. It all looks like a series of gorgeous paintings, and the Arcadia sequences, in particular, consist of some superb examples of surreal fantasy art. The music in this game is also very beautiful and atmospheric, lots of sweeping and uplifting stuff.
I've played this through twice and am now starting on my third time, because I've just inspired someone I know to get a copy and once they started playing it, it kicked off my motivation to have yet another go! It is something that is replayable because although your gaming experience won't change from one replay to another, this game is so packed with so many different characters and events that you simply won't remember all of it after a year or so. But, even the stuff I do remember, I'm enjoying reliving all over again!
'The Longest Journey', although not available in shops as far as I know, can be purchased online, new as well as used, from various sources such as Amazon and eBay. It no longer seems to be available from the developers' website, as it was way back when I bought it.
You might also want to pick up a copy of the sequel, 'Dreamfall', which carries on ten years from where 'The Longest Journey' leaves off. You may be initially disappointed to find that you don't play as April in this one - but you will encounter her later in the game and actually alternate back and forth between playing as April and the new heroine. See my other reviews for a review of Dreamfall!
There is a fair degree of swearing and references to sexual issues in the game, so as its certification suggests, this is not a game for children!
Recommended with the highest recommendation humanly possible. A must-have. I wish I could give it more than five stars.
Also on ciao.co.uk as thereddragon and Helium as Esmeralda Draic.
Do you like to play old time classic games like monkey island ? These kind of game are a disappearing breed, and longest journey is one of this kind, the game is pretty old so you will have a hard time locating it and probably the best way is to use ebay or some store which specialize in old games or has some used game sale, and of course the price will be low, probably a few pounds.
Let's start with the real review here, TLJ (The Longest Journey) is a old kind of game, it uses an interface similar to point and click used in monkey island, and is very easy to master especially if you already know what I am talking about, basically you have to choose which actions your character has to do, how to interact with objects, choose topics talking to peoples and so on.
The story is a very nice, part post modern, part fantasy story with actually a very nice plot and full of surprises, if you like to play this kind of game probably TLJ is one of the best and if you haven't already played it you can probably consider it on the same level of some new game of this kind ad maybe even better.
The graphic is pretty decent considering the game is probably 7-8 years old or more, not exceptional but very well rendered and the game does not require a modern pc, probably a 500 mhz or more will be sufficient, the game is of course for one player only and may contain some strong words, is not easy and will probably prove to be quite challenging.
I can't of course spend time talking about the plot cause this is probably the strong part of the game and you will discover it while you go on the only thing I do recall from when I played the game some years ago is that the game is quite long and probably will keep you entertained for some days.
The replayability of the game is minimal seen that is like reading a book, once you finished it there is no point in reading it again, you can of course do it but it won't be the same
(WARNING: This opinion contains some minor spoilers.) Well you certainly can’t accuse the makers of TLJ of fraudulent advertising because the game certainly does feel like the longest journey you’ll ever experience in a game. The story is quite simple. You play the part of a busty young art student called Lara C… sorry I mean April Ryan, but you’ve been experiencing a lack of inspiration lately and your end-of-year exhibition is coming up meaning you need inspiration, soon. The art academy exhibition is the least of your problems though and have recently been experiencing weird nightmares with dragons and talking trees etc. One day a man walks into April’s life raving like a loony and warning you about the dangers of these nightmares that have also apparently been affecting other city folk. It isn’t long until you discover that you are actually a person called a shifter who has the ability to shift between 2 Earths, one ruled buy science (Stark) and one by magic (Arcadia). The story is very intricate and well designed to engross the player if they don’t get bored first and therein lies the fault. You can tell there is a good story here but there is simply too much talking going on. Don’t get me wrong, I always up for a little chat with a friendly stranger but some conversations are more like watching a film rather than playing an interactive computer game. In some cases you can sit there for what seem like hours just listening to someone giving you their life-story without you actually having to touch the mouse, it is possible to skip these epic little conversations but there is always the possibility that you could miss an important piece of information and have to go all the way back through the conversation log to find the info you need. Having said that, if you can bare the long conversations, you are in for one heck of an adventure. The story has more twists and turns than a county lane and ther
e are plenty of interesting characters to meet. Some of the locations in TLJ are truly beautiful, all are pre-rendered and make the game all the more impressive. The backgrounds can range from a bustling cityscape to a mountain range covered with acres of lush green grass. Each location is inhabited by its own people ranging from your average homegrown human to strange giant, telepathic, water lizards. So now I come to the puzzles. Its becoming much rarer these days to find an adventure game with puzzles that are actually fun but TLJ really does have some enjoyable puzzles. These puzzles, however, can range from the blatantly obvious to the mind perplexing illogical, for example, there is a puzzle in which you must win a game by guessing which cup a coin is under, luckily the coin is made if iron and so you can use a magnetic screwdriver to see which cup moves when the screwdriver is held near it, easy, its basic physics. Then there is the puzzle where you must get an object jammed in a rail track and where a simple clamp may be sufficient to reach it you are required to find several other objects to fashion some kind of long-distance grabbing device that would me more at home in an episode of MacGyver. I’m happy to say that these illogical puzzles are few and far between and for those of you who really get stuck it shouldn’t be to hard to find a good walk through on the net. As a big fan of adventure games I would recommend TLJ to any other adventure fan and also to anyone who loves a good story. TLJ is a fantasy game that will give even the most seasoned gamer hours of fun and entertainment, providing a rich gaming world full of beautiful locations, believable characters, entertaining puzzles and an extremely engrossing storyline loaded with plot twists and turns. For those people left wanting more at the end of the game (I can’t imagine why you could want more though) there is a little extra that is unlocked which allo
ws you to see some of TLJ concept art, voice acting bloopers and music that didn’t, but really should have, made it into the game.
No guns, no blood splattering full-on gore action, no monsters rearing up at you from stagnant swamps…but a whole lot of talking and walking going on. You should be warned that, if you only like blowing enemies sky high and dashing around collecting weapons, this would not be your favourite game ever. I like adventure games, but what often lets them down is the lack of any real content or logical challenges that don’t have you slamming your head against the desk in frustration. I was a little perturbed to read many reviews of The Longest Journey that opined the fact you spend most of your time talking to characters you meet along your way. I felt sure this would slow the game down to a comatose pace that would have me gazing around the room for lack of interest. As it turned out, I was wrong. Yes, the conversations you have are long-winded at times. You can skip through these more quickly by pressing Esc on your keyboard, and all conversations are logged. This means if you’re in the mood to speed things up, you can go back later and re-read what people have said to you. This often proves vital as the game has many paths, which only open when characters have mentioned a person or place that you then have to question other people about before traveling there. Other adventure game designers should take note of the conversations in The Longest Journey – they actually manage to be interesting and add a whole new dimension to the game. This is how we come to care about the heroine, April Ryan, and her friends. Far from being staid and boring, the conversations are witty, at times subversively so, and often sprinkled with a good few swear words to spice things up a little and bring us into the time the game is set. Another useful feature is April’s diary. When something important happens, the diary icon flashes and you get to read what just happened through April’s point of view. The things you have to
remember are, for the most part, written down for you. This also means you don’t have to sit poised with a pen and paper, frantically scribbling down names, dates, codes and addresses – another downfall of many adventure games. I like the fact this game has been designed with the player in mind; it’s shocking how little this is taken into account by many adventure game designers. They seem so intent on creating the perfect backgrounds and mind-boggling puzzles that they forget someone will actually be sitting down and trying to enjoy themselves whilst playing it. The manual says the makers’ of this game believe it is "...very frustrating for the player to spend hours solving a puzzle only to have a piano dropped on her head when she pushes the wrong lever. But this doesn’t mean the game isn’t challenging. It just means that, whatever you do, right or wrong, you don’t have to worry about being punished. Games are supposed to be fun, not aggravating." If only all adventure games could incorporate this belief into their design! Playing this game is like reading someone’s diary and stepping into the pages. There is just the right balance of player control. By that I mean to say it feels like you can control certain things, like April’s actions, but there is just enough out of your control to make it feel like an interactive animated movie. I haven’t quite finished, but so far I am very impressed. The characters aren’t quite as well animated as I had hoped, but the lush backgrounds are wonderful and imaginative, the characters are realistic and interesting, the situations varied and amusing. Don’t buy if you have an ever-itchy trigger finger, but if you like well thought out fascinating games that keep you thinking, I highly recommend it.
The first thing to say about the Longest Journey,by Empire Interactive, is that it is not a "shoot em up!" It is more like a movie where you have some control over how fast the plot progresses. This is because more of the story unfolds as you solve various puzzles. I am still playing the game, so this review will be somewhat incomplete, but to tell you in detail what happens will spoil it for you. To give you a flavour though, you play April Ryan, who is desribed as a "shifter", someone with the power to move between the two worlds of "Arcadia" and "Stark". Arcadia, as its name implies, is a rural world which has a mythical feel to it and which is ruled by magic. Whilst Stark is based on a modern, technological world not too disimilar to the world of Blade Runner. We enter the story at a time when the "balance" between the two worlds has been disturbed and it appears that April's mission is to restore that balance. The game moves between the two Kingdoms in the form of a mixture of interactive puzzles and non-interactive "video" clips (these are to my mind particularly good). Some of the reviews I have read in the various PC mags have critised The Longest Journey for having too much chat in it between April and the various characters she meets along the way. I have to say from my point of view that this is one of the games strengths. I would like to see more games which rely on interactive conversation to move the plot along with heavier reliance on the psychology of relationships (if the AI part of the programmes can handle it). If you would like to play a visually impressive game which relies more on puzzle solving and chat rather than "flash bang wallop" then The Longest Journey is for you. If, however, you are looking for a game with a Lara clone, April does not fit the bill, she's younger and comes with less assetts and no hardware and I haven'
t come across any characters with chain saws, Lucozade or Dorbermans called "Boris" yet.