The Longest Journey


by PinkyToe
author awarded score: 90/100

The Longest Journey Review
Developed By: FunCom
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: PinkyToe

You've heard the story before: Girl goes to college. Girl gets waitress job to help with expenses. Girl is secretly chosen to save world. Girl risks life, limb, home, college, friends and family to try saving the world.

If you're one of the few adventure genre addicts who haven't played The Longest Journey yet, you may wonder what's so special about this one:

Modern-day, humorous dialogue melded into futuristic worlds. No thou's, to whit's, or alien mumbo-jumbo for this heroine. Even if everyone around her is babbling incoherently, she never speaks a word that us mere mortals would not understand. And she has quite the acerbic and witty tongue, that girl. Fair warning to sensitive ears that there is profanity in the game.

 The Longest Journey Review

Our heroine, April Ryan, has a buddy to keep her company till she meets the next batch of kooky or scary futurelings. Myst, and to some extent Siberia too, was exquisitely beautiful, but a lonely journey. The Myst main character could go days without communicating with anyone except the occasional ghostly apparition guide. Our heroine never gets bored or lonely; she's always chatting up alien police, animals, monsters, roommates, spirit guides, even talking to herself when needed.

Game Play
Easy as pie. Wait; pie is hard! So instead, let's just say this game is very easy to play. Simply point and click with a mouse. Guide April through her journey, picking up important treasures along the way, using them later in life-and-death situations. Use mouse to chat with many goodniks, freakniks, evil-doers, and regular folk encountered in a variety of ancient, futuristic, bizarre and wild worlds. Especially appreciated was the ESC key allowing quick skip through dialogue.

Difficulty
I did need walk-through assist a few times. Only once did I still not understand the logic after finishing a puzzle, but it still was so much fun, it didn't matter. I was very pleased and surprised by the overall intuitiveness of the puzzles. TLJ is not a pure puzzle game; you won't find back-to-back mystery codes to decipher or a plethora of machine-activating, button-pushing panels. The magic is in the story and getting April where she needs to be, along with plenty of puzzles and tricks to satisfy adventure lovers.

 The Longest Journey Review

Graphics
Absolute cutting edge for 1999 and even a bit beyond. Compared to newer games, TLJ characters can appear polygonic, but the artists did a superb job with the technology available at the time. Artists displayed clever creativity with design of creatures and ghouls.

Sound
Beautiful sound, even from a laptop. Top-notch music score, which played a key role in making the game feel even more ethereal, spooky, or joyful.

Performance
I played on Windows XP via a Dell Inspiron 8600 laptop, 1.5Ghz, 1GB RAM, 7800 RPM drive. Never experienced any performance issues whatsoever, except when trying to save before a video is finished. When this happened, the game locked up tighter than San Quentin, requiring battery removal for reboot. I learned to never save when the word "Exit" is visible during mouse hover anywhere in a game screen. One or two video plays had some static sounds, but the video did not last long and the static stopped when the video stopped for game play to resume.

 The Longest Journey Review

Fun Factor
Though the story is insanely futuristic, pure fantasy and very complex, it sucked me in and I couldn't wait to find out how it ended. The journey from intro to end was funny, exciting, and very entertaining.

Summary
Though released in 1999, I've just now played The Longest Journey and could kick myself for waiting so long. All the gushing reviews are absolutely well-deserved. My first thought after the last frame of credits faded away was: Whaaaa! I want more! The development team has heeded the call of its rabid audience, with a sequel due Q2 2006. The Longest Journey is an absolutely must-play for all adventure fans, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on the next exciting installment of April Ryan's daring-dos.