Back Catalogue: The Longest Journey

What is it about?

The Longest Journey is a (mouse) click based exploration-adventure game that takes place during the twenty-third century in the city of Newport. You play as April Ryan, a young and talented artist in the making who lives in a boarding house in the Venice (no, not Italy) locality, and is struggling with her day-to-day life as the typical runaway movie teen always does. That is, until she discovers that she isn’t the typical teen and the fate of worlds rests upon her and her actions. From then on, things get even worse for her, but hell of a lot more interesting for us as one of the most intriguing tales ever told in a videogame unfolds right before our very eyes. This tale is full of drama, humour, horror, suspense, and most of all, life. If you haven’t played this game yet, you’re likely to be left craving to do so by the time you’re done reading this Back Catalogue feature.

Why should I play it now?

The Longest Journey offers a unique and unparalleled experience that is not, and will never be time bound. It’s never too late to play a game of this calibre. Although the longest journey tells a rigid and linear tale, the amount of freedom and gameplay it offers is impressive. The visuals might not appeal to most, especially by today’s standards, but the attention to detail is amazing. Every character you meet in the game is so lively and unique, that each one of them is likely to be etched in your mind as you progress through the game. This attention to detail is complemented well by the excellent voice acting throughout the game. If anything, the game starts out slowly (and by slowly, I mean super-duper slow), and is intent on barfing a tonne of information about the game world and characters on you. But once you’re past this stage, the story gets grippingly tense and complicated. Even the puzzles feel rather logic based at first, but get exciting as you progress in the game.

How does it hold up today?

The animations are nothing to speak about, frankly but this is a videogame that comes with the option to turn animations off. That’s how important animations are in the game. The Longest Journey is all about the artistic detail and voice acting, and boy does it deliver in this department. The visuals might not be breath-taking, but they’re rich with artistic detail and the voice acting blows away many of the movies that I’ve seen recently. Full credit to developer Funcom and creator Ragnar Tornquist for having put together such a complex storyline with simple gameplay that lasts for a good fifteen to twenty hours – WIN!

Is it similar to anything else out there?

There are a few click-based puzzle games that might sound similar, but no. This game is unique in the way it presents itself and the way the adventure unravels. There’s no substitute. You’d simply HAVE to play this game to experience the awesomeness. It’s a pity that there aren’t many games from this genre that have released this gen. And this sort of a gameplay would be a perfect fit too, for the multitude of gaming friendly phones and touch based devices in the market today.

What do I need to play this?

Anything that’s faster than a Pentium III class processor, 64 MB of RAM, a 32 MB graphics card, Windows XP or above and 1 GB of hard disk space is all that you need to play this game.

‘When I played through…’

“What next??..Where to??..How do I get this guy to help me out??..Is there any way I can change this person’s fate??” These were a few of the numerous questions I had to go through when I played the game. After getting the answers right for a section, it felt ever so rewarding to see the story progress. I still remember the time when I met Abnaxus, the Venar ambassador to the Ayrede council at Marcuria. The weird creature talks gibberish in a complex mix of all three tenses, or so I thought. It turned out that the Venar are creatures that live in all three flows of time, thereby unable to concentrate their presence on one particular instance. Apparently, Abnaxus is the best one among them to focus his presence onto one instance of time. I ended up learning a lot of interesting things such as my possible future threads from Abnaxus. And that’s just one character from a whole list of unique and influential characters in the game.

Is there anything else I should be aware of (ie mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?

Just make sure that you hold on to Guybrush, the spooky clapping-monkey toy, especially during the starting stages of the game. I learnt it the hard way, having lost him and ended up searching all over the game world trying to remember where I’d misplaced him. If you ever end up crashing or corrupting the game’s screen, try opening a sub menu and then closing it. It fixed the corrupted screen most of the time for me. Another annoying issue that I had to tolerate while playing the game was that it takes up 100% process utilisation even though it doesn’t require anything close to that. I was never able to find a solution to that.

Where do I get it?

I haven’t come across a physical copy of the game in recent years. Steam and GOG offer the game for 9.99$. GOG is probably the better choice, as it offers the game DRM free as usual with the book of secrets featuring bonus content and soundtrack.

Feeling lucky?

If you’re feeling lucky, then we’ve got codes for The Longest Journey to give away courtesy GOG. Simply post your views on this Back Catalogue feature in the comments section below, or just let us know that you’d like a code (we’re nice like that). Also, don’t forget to mention your IVG forum ID in the comment so that we can PM you the giveaway code.

Let us know what you think of our Back Catalogue retrospective feature, or tell us which classic games you’d like to see featured in the future in the comments section below or in the corresponding discussion thread at the IVG community forums.

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