|You'll spend most of your time on this screen, navigating your starship around star systems|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Daedalic Studio West
- Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
- Release Date: 30 May 2017
- Time played: 4.4 hours (INCOMPLETE)
What is itDaedalic Entertainment is a German games development studio and publisher that was founded in 2007 and has released many point 'n' click adventure games such as the Deponia series, Memoria and The Night of the Rabbit, amongst others. So, when I saw that they were making a sci-fi game called The Long Journey Home, I was obviously intrigued. However, The Long Journey Home isn't a point 'n' click adventure; it's more of a survival sim mixed with roguelike elements.
Released only last year, The Long Journey Home has received mixed reviews from critics and players alike, with a Metascore of 68 on Metacritic and a User Score of 7.2. On Steam, 65% of the 795 user reviews for the game are positive, giving it a Steam rating of "Mixed". The game sees you controlling the crew of a human spaceship that accidentally performed a hypserspace jump to the far side of the galaxy and you start the game 30,000 parsecs away from Earth. Your goal is to make the arduous journey home in one piece, salvaging resources from planets, trading with alien races and occasionally fighting them to survive.
The main part of the game involves navigating your ship between stars, planets and asteroid fields within a star system collecting resources as well as talking to any aliens that happen to be cruising by. Landing on a planet will start a mini-game similar to the classic Lunar Lander where you have to either land or hover above resources in order to collect them. Collecting resources from asteroid fields on the other hand starts a mini-game similar to Asteroids (would never have picked it) where your ship is viewed from a top-down, 2D perspective and you have to navigate through the asteroids to get to the precious ores.
Once you've decided you've had enough of a particular star system, you can jump to another (if you have enough fuel). There's nothing preventing you from sticking around except that resources are limited and they will dwindle over time: if your hull integrity reaches zero, all your crew die or you run out of fuel, it's pretty much game over.
How I got itI acquired the game in June of this year along with a whole bunch of other Daedalic games from The Humble Daedalic Bundle 2018. I already owned a couple of games in the bundle (such as Memoria) but it was good to finally get all the Deponia games in one place and The Long Journey Home since, as mentioned, I love sci-fi games and one that involves attempting to get your ship from one side of the galaxy all the way back home has a very "Star Trek: Voyager" feel to it, which isn't a bad thing.
What I like:
The premiseAs mentioned, the game's plot feels like it borrows heavily from TV shows like "Star Trek: Voyager" and even other computer games, such as Homeworld, where the aim is to navigate your quite vulnerable starship on a long and treacherous journey across the galaxy, just so you can return home. I don't know why the premise is so appealing to me but it is: maybe it's because the goal is rather anti-heroic in that it's not a quest for glory, it's a quest for survival and of yearning to return to familiar surroundings, or maybe it's because it's an odyssey set in SPAAAAAACE (and not of the Arthur C. Clarke kind).
Star Control 2 parallelsThe game seems to have been inspired by Star Control 2 somewhat: like Star Control 2, you get to explore a huge galaxy filled with zany aliens, deploy landers to planets in order to gather resources and fight other ships from a top-down, 2D perspective. In fact, one of the default "seeds" (10 character strings that are used at the beginning of a game to determine which aliens and quests you'll encounter) is "DNYARRI" which every Star Control fan will know as the ancient race that managed to dominate the Sentient Milieu through their mind control of the Ur-Quan (the antagonists in Star Control II).
Steam Achievements and Trading CardsThe Steam version of the game has 69 Steam Achievements to earn and 12 trading cards to collect.
What I dislike:
DifficultThe game is pretty unforgiving and is understandably meant to be since it is a roguelike of sorts: roguelikes are meant to be challenging. However, landing on planets, even ones without a hostile environment, can often result in you expending more resources than you could possibly extract. This means you're probably better off zooming as fast as you can to Earth and not loitering around star systems since it'd only waste valuable resources, not to mention there's always the chance you'll encounter hostile alien races who want to blast your ship to space dust.
Gated progressStar systems in The Long Journey Home are organised into clusters and in order to travel between each of these clusters, you need to pay money in order to use special jump gates. Usually, you get money in the game from selling resources (which you need) or special items (which can be extremely useful when certain conditions are met). However, if you happen to piss the aliens off by giving them raw deals, you're barred from trading with them ever again. Now, while this doesn't sound like much of an issue it's actually a big issue since if there aren't any other space stations in the star cluster you're in to trade with, you might as well hit the "restart" button since you're then trapped in the star cluster for eternity.
It's similar to a roguelike, but notOkay, the game is similar to a roguelike since it's challenging and you're meant to keep replaying the game with the knowledge you've learnt from previous playthroughs: this knowledge will help you avoid making the mistakes again meaning you'll (hopefully) get closer to your final objective of returning to Earth. Unlike other roguelikes though, usually you'll unlock new and wonderful items that can help you in a subsequent playthrough: this is not the case in The Long Journey Home meaning all you've got to go on is your knowledge.
Tedious and boringUltimately, I didn't find the game that much fun: it was more infuriating than anything else and there was no time I felt a sense of achievement since there's really only one time you're going to feel that, and that's when you complete the primary objective of making your way back to Earth. The lander missions are tedious, navigating asteroids is a chore, talking to aliens becomes repetitive as they offer little valuable insight, and combat seems very clumsy and unsatisfying.
Score – 6/10 (Okay)If you're looking for a sci-fi point 'n' click adventure because that's what you'd expect from a company like Daedalic, then I'm sorry to say that The Long Journey Home isn't it. It's in fact a difficult and frustrating mix of space survival sim and roguelike with mini-games that are infuriating instead of fun; Star Control II, a game that is 26 years old, does just about everything better. However, if you're in the market for a challenging, sci-fi roguelike that bears some similarities to the aforementioned classic game then by all means, give this game a shot.
Is the game worth $43.95?: No. Despite the game having higher production values than Out There, a very similar game, it's double the price. If sci-fi roguelikes are your thing though, it might be worth getting if it's half-price.
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[ LINK: Official The Long Journey Home Website ]