Old Man's Journey (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 17.02.2018 7

Review for Old Man

There used to be a day when puzzle games were puzzle games, and short stories were short stories. Nowadays, you can't walk a digital mile and not stumble upon a couple of narrative-driven puzzlers. You know the ones; titles that try to offer a tale (usually a sad/melancholic/nostalgic one), and sort of shoehorn some puzzle-solving-esque gameplay into the mix. Is that a problem? When the action is helping instead of hurting the storytelling, as in Little Nightmares, the answer is, of course, no. When it does, however, like in Unravel, then that's definitely a problem. In which category does Old Man's Journey, a tiny, and beautiful, journey of a cute and respectable, silver-haired senior citizen (aka: old fart) fall into? Read on…

Ever seen those Pixar shorts that are sometimes better than the actual film that come afterwards? Not a word heard, and those tears or ROFLs will inevitably come. Old Man's Journey is a short story, alright, but is it an emotive one? Well, not really. Firstly, though, here's the deal: after reading a letter, the titular character will start his long walk towards... someplace, and along the way he will gaze upon scenes that will ignite past memories.

Screenshot for Old Man's Journey on Nintendo Switch

Okay, when the grandpa looks at a young couple of lovebirds, a smile is put on his face, and a still image of a younger him appears for a few seconds, which shows the player the first time he saw his soon-to-be wife. As is usually the case with these, the journey gets sadder and sadder, with those initial happy slides making way for some less joyful ones - and, at the same time, make the extremely predictable ending even more so.

Of course, the pastel-like, fairytale-ish vistas that gramps is passing through will change accordingly, with his journey that starts in a vibrantly colourful, and soothing Mediterranean sea town, soon leading to grey skies, rain, harsh weather, and barren landscapes. In fact, this is half of what makes this ride tolerable, with the other half being a few fleeting moments, like when the old man is waving at a small child, which, of course, brings forth some of his best memories on the screen.

Screenshot for Old Man's Journey on Nintendo Switch

Unfortunately, there's also a game in here, and it's mind-numbingly boring. For starters, it's not really a puzzle game - not in the strictest sense of the term, at least. The player clicks where the protagonist should go, and he does so. The thing is that he can only walk on the edge of, say, a hill, so, if the edges of two hills don't interconnect, he can't move on. Luckily for those pointing the way, this "frail" human being can also warp space, and, more specifically, drag surfaces up and down until their edges collide.

It's a concept that's so simple that it won't really make those cogs turn. Even when additional mechanics make an appearance, like waterfalls, stubborn sheep that serve as obstacles, or walls that must be destroyed, most of the challenge will be not making the hero accidentally walk when all you want to do is to move a surface. Most of all, though, these 'puzzles' will put you to sleep. There's a trip-ruining, stop-start train ride, for instance, that has you moving rails into the correct spot; a part that, even when you act faster so that the train won't stop, feels like a chore.

Screenshot for Old Man's Journey on Nintendo Switch

…and that's the thing with Old Man's Journey - it's just a real chore, when it would be much better if it had tried something else, like multiple-choice dialogue sequences, alternative paths to take, and so on, and so forth. Even better, it could simply cut corners like Virginia, and focus entirely on the storytelling part. Yes, it wouldn't be a typical videogame anymore, but it would certainly be more enjoyable.

Screenshot for Old Man's Journey on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Old Man's Journey is not as emotionally charged as its developer wants you to believe it is, but at least the landscapes that said old man will tread through are beautiful and fit like a glove with the vibe of each moment encountered. Unfortunately, what could be a nice and easy-going, if not a little forgettable, experience, turns into an hour and a half of boredom, due to the needless, and simplistic, puzzle-solving included.

Developer

Broken Rules

Publisher

Broken Rules

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Chuck (guest) 25.02.2018#1

In my opinion, this review is just plain incorrect.  If you've ever cared about someone, and missed them, this story will tug strongly at your heart.  The art is beautiful, unique, and alive.  The puzzle mechanic of the game is fanciful and mirrors the old man's journey forward and backward in time.  A correct score would be 9.5/10, unless the fact that it is a short game is a problem for you, in which case 9/10.

Sorry, but the story of a man who...

...doesn't exactly strike a cord with me.

Nevertheless, even if it did, this was also a puzzle game, and a pretty boring at that, so, no, far from a 9/10 even with a story that I would find it to be perfect.


 

( Edited 06.03.2018 06:53 by Ofisil )

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

I've just finished it on PC, and whilst I clearly enjoyed more than you, Ofisil, it's not the award winning game that people have made it out to be (it's been highly praised on iOS/Android). On PC, it was an average puzzler, with a so-so tale, and ended very quickly.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Adam Riley said:
I've just finished it on PC, and whilst I clearly enjoyed more than you, Ofisil, it's not the award winning game that people have made it out to be (it's been highly praised on iOS/Android). On PC, it was an average puzzler, with a so-so tale, and ended very quickly.

5/10?

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Smilie I think I'm a bit more generous. If I get time to write something up, I'll see how I'm feeling.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

"Average puzzler with a so-so tale"

Sound like a 5/10 to me Smilie
Come on, Adam-man, we old people are supposed to grumble!!!

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

It's all I seem to do lately Smilie That, and whinge about lower back pains Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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