The Journey Down is a bizarre game, in a good way. You play as Bwana, a character of South African origin who runs his father’s business of filling up oil along with Kito. Until he is unceremoniously pulled into a chase with an unknown mob, thanks to a customer, Lina. Together, they set off for the mysterious Underland, pretty much like Skull Island of King Kong, one would imagine.
The visuals definitely pulled me back to the good-old adventure games of the late 90s, complete with FMV cutscenes and the character artstyles reminiscent of the legendary Grim Fandango. It’s hand-painted, and it looks great.
The game takes place in a noir-ish, futuristic-vintage world. Pretty oxymoronic, but everything here looks neat. The characters here are pretty much up to the player’s liking; either you like Bwana or you don’t. He is a compassionate yet pretty dim-witted character, and comes off as slightly aggravating when you hear what he has to say. But that’s just my opinion, of course.
The music and sound is done exceptionally well here, I love the jazz music that gives that upbeat mood. Voiceovers are also well done with the accents and the ambience that pretty much nails the atmosphere of the game. But I do have an issue with the sound compression, I experienced slight crackles in some parts or maybe it’s just my headphones.
As what you’ve expect from a point-and-click game, this is pretty much one of the more bizzare ones. There are many instances of Bwana doing weird stuff in order to proceed on to the next objective. From colouring a food with white paint and then serving to a guest, to adding motor oil as a crude substitute for a recipe. Even using mouldy breadsticks to build a ladder, you get the idea. It’s downright weird yet giving you a chuckle whenever you do something like this. Inventory is easily accessible just by hovering to the bottom of the screen, where you can analyze or combine the items you found.
The puzzles require more thinking and crazy ideas on your part. There are some solutions that are far more logical but it forces you to trudge back and forth. For example, a particular area I had to go find a slice of lemon when a chef is right there chopping them in front of me; I could just ask him for it instead of hunting for one somewhere else. There’s even a Pipe-Dream type puzzle near the end of the episode, which is old-school fun. I hoped there were more conversational options and selecting certain choices allow you to skip a puzzle entirely, instead of needless interaction besides serving to get critical items from the NPCs. There isn’t much replayability to speak off; some puzzles can be done in a non-linear way, and there’s no order to follow to it in some cases. Also, some of the puzzles near the end look impossible to solve, until you consult the power of online walkthroughs.
Should You Get It?
The first episode of the Journey down is definitely worth taking a look into, not just for the nostalgia of old adventure games but also the great gameplay it offers. There’s also a bonus Behind The Scenes after completing it, which shows the amount of effort put in the game.
This is the first episode in a planned series, and I had a great time with it. I strongly recommend this game to anyone, give it a try.