The Longest Journey (PC) Review

By Ofisil 23.06.2019

Review for The Longest Journey on PC

It's 1999, and, by the look of things, the popularity meter is at an all-time low for point-and-click adventures, despite the appearance of some very high quality titles, with Grim Fandango being one prime example. Then comes Ragnar Tørnquist, who, along with a small team of people, created what is now regarded as one of the best "modern" adventures ever, alongside Syberia and the aforementioned LucasArts' masterpiece. With good reason? Here's a retrospective look at the immersive odyssey through high fantasy and science fiction known as The Longest Journey, which explains that, although heavily flawed, this is definitely a must-have for genre fans.

For a young girl living in the cyberpunk city of Newport, April Ryan's life is a pretty standard one. When she isn't practicing her drawing skills, or procrastinating, she enjoys the company of her friends, and tries to make ends meet in a local bar. Lately, however, she has been having some vivid dreams of an alien place, where an eldritch entity seems to be threatening her. After a while, April will realise that this dreamworld is actually a second Earth of sorts, where, rather than science and logic, magic rules all. Being a 'Shifter' that can travel between the two realms, the heroine will soon find herself at a quest to save the fragile balance that keeps everything running smoothly.

...And thus begins The Longest Journey. Surprisingly, the whole magic-vs-technology shebang, and April's attempts to aid 'The Balance,' whatever that is, never actually turn into a fantastic epic. The story at hand is good, but also pretty simple; clichéd even. The graphics are nothing to write home about either. Both Stark, the world of "logic," and Arcadia, the land of magic, look good, and even beautiful at times, but also heavily look their age… and budget. As for the characters themselves, April is somewhere between decent and cute, while the rest are a bunch of badly-animated abominations, whose body parts occasionally glitch out of existence.

Screenshot for The Longest Journey on PC

Despite all this, few cared back when this was released - and rightly so, because the strengths of this, otherwise, typical point-and-click adventure, made it easy to overlook the decent-to-good story, and passable visuals. More specifically, this was less about its storytelling and visuals design, and more about its immersive atmosphere. You’ll really feel part of this world; feel as if ‘you’ are the truly the one travelling through all the colourful or bleak locales, and talk with talk with all sorts of weird fellows; feel a connection with each place, and, more importantly feel what April Ryan feels. Oh, yeah, for those unaware, this cutie is actually one of the best videogame protagonists ever crafted.

The heroine on offer is proof that a female videogame protagonist doesn’t need to be rocking a great pair of funbags to be awesome - although her behinds are still quite pinch-able. April Ryan is excellent, exactly because she isn’t. Those expecting a Silmarilion-like queen won’t find it here. April is just a normal human being, with normal human flaws. She is one who can be naive, stupid, and, more often than not, afraid to confront what’s up ahead, or what’s inside of her, with some of the best parts of the journey being about her confronting her past. Even better, this is also one of those rare occurrences where a fictional female character actually has humour.

Screenshot for The Longest Journey on PC

Yup, that is one funny, and pleasantly snarky gal, which makes reading her frequently updated journal (a helpful log, as well as great character development) a very enjoyable process. It's important to note that, typical of old-school adventures, April frequently indulges in some meta joking. No, this never becomes Deadpool, but a great deal of the comedy at hand revolves around her making fun of things, whether that's the existence of a generic evil sorcerer (flying fortress and all), or just the absurdity of her quest as a whole. Oh, and as the cherry on top, April Ryan's voice actress, Sarah Hamilton, is simply m-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t.

As mentioned before, however, The Longest Journey isn't perfect. Sure, the direction, pacing, and, most of all, the writing, are of a pretty high quality... but then they simply aren't. Typical of Ragnar Tørnquist, his pen has the tendency to give birth to tons of exposition, which severely damages what is, generally, a finely-handled storyline. Having said that, though, it's still very easy to not care about that, and simply keep on having fun. Sadly, the one factor which will decide whether you will keep on playing this game is definitely the inconsistent pacing, as well as some of the, almost traditional, problems that tend to appear in the genre.

Screenshot for The Longest Journey on PC

Without any exaggeration, there are plenty of moments throughout your long quest where you'll feel that you've accidentally activated a slow-mo feature. Characters will slooowly walk towards you to give you an item to examine (the library section in Arcadia broke yours truly); in-game cut-scenes will drag on for way too long; and, last but not least, there will be plenty of "dead" moments where you've talked with everybody, and collected whatever there is to collect, and run from location to location trying to figure out what needs to be done next, with no one to talk to while this happens, and no customary double-click "teleportation" from screen to screen.

The Longest Journey is also one of those adventure games that are guilty of having some pretty obscure, chore-ish, or straight up annoying, puzzles. Some are particularly annoying because, while the solution is crystal clear, the steps required to reach that will leave many wondering whether they've actually found a bug. Oh, and speaking of bugs, after all these years, there are still a few left, no matter the version bought, not to mention the fact that a couple of locations have some atrocious path-making, which, again, will make you feel that you've encountered a glitch ...and despite all this, this remains one of the best representatives of the genre. Videogames are weird.

Screenshot for The Longest Journey on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The Longest Journey has plenty of boring, annoying, and even broken parts, but it also has a very good storyline, a fantastic protagonist, tons of humour, some very interesting characters, and an exquisitely engrossing atmosphere. The Longest Journey isn’t perfect, but it is such an unforgettable experience, that it’s also one of those cases where that doesn’t really matter.

Developer

Funcom

Publisher

Empire Interactive

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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