Posted by: Becky
A First Look at The Journey Down: Chapter One by Becky - 05/12/12 10:01 AM
It's always fun to hearken back to the adventure classics. I've played games reminiscent of the Monkey Island games, Myst, and (less often) King's Quest. But The Journey Down is the first adventure I've played that brought back memories of Grim Fandango.
In the Dark
In The Journey Down two brothers -- Bwana and Kito -- strategize what to do about their local power company. They are behind on their electric bills. Okay, they are way behind. But with power cut off, how can they run their gas station/airplane charter business? The "in your face" solution to this problem is just the beginning of a wacky series of events that sweeps them up in a maelstrom of a mystery.
An attractive woman from the local university arrives looking for a book, hidden in the bedroom loft by Bwana's father, who disappeared years ago. The book contains forbidden information about the Underland. It is also sought by a threatening group of characters who aren't the least bit attractive or bookish. The only course for Bwana is to repair his broken-down charter airplane, grab the girl, and vamoose.
Like Grim Fandango, The Journey Down portrays stylized characters in surreal surroundings with a folk art flair. In The Journey Down, the characters' faces resemble African tribal masks, so facial features are stiff, exaggerated and (in some cases) downright weird. The environments are hand-drawn with blocks of color, eerily lit and decorated with angular, ethnic forms. Jazzy music adds to the offbeat, yet danger-tinged atmosphere.
A further similarity is the strength of the protagonist/hero. Grim Fandango's Manny Calavera could rise above the worst circumstances, while Journey Down's Bwana has a talent for being in denial about the worst circumstances.
Bwana is laid-back, loves shooting the breeze with strangers, and harbors a fascination with breaking the rules. These traits, combined with whimsical humor and an over-the-top Jamaican accent, make him ridiculously endearing.
This is a point-and-click adventure viewed from the third person perspective. Challenges so far are mostly observation and inventory based. Oh, and there's a mechanical crane puzzle where you click on levers in what might be a pattern. (Did I solve it by luck? Only the crane knows for sure.)
A Classic in the Making?
The Journey Down surprised me with its unusual characters, engaging quips and surreal, yet believable gameworld. Bwana's gig as pilot of his patched-up plane promises both fascination and dread. Will he accidentally annihilate himself and his passengers? If not, will he manage to bamboozle the gang coming after his father's book? Will he find out what's really going down in the Underland?
Chapter One in the series releases May 18th.
To find out more about The Journey Down, visit the game's website, and read the developer's blog.
To preorder the game, click here.