The Long Jour­ney Home

Custom PC - - CONTENTS - DE­VEL­OPER Daedalic Stu­dio West / PUB­LISHER Daedalic En­ter­tain­ment / WEB­SITE RICK LANE

The Long Jour­ney Home (TLJH) of­fers a boldly drawn uni­verse filled with strange and kooky alien races. The setup is es­sen­tially a Lost in Space sce­nario. You con­trol Earth’s first faster-than-light craft on its maiden voy­age to Alpha Cen­tauri, but some­thing goes wrong when you jump to light speed and you end up stranded on the far side of the gal­axy. You must then scav­enge sup­plies and seek help from aliens in or­der to re­turn to Earth.

The weird alien races play a cen­tral role, and they range from sen­tient plants to in­fec­tious, gift-giv­ing mol­luscs, with each race hav­ing its own culture, per­son­al­ity and lin­guis­tic syn­tax. Con­vers­ing with th­ese aliens can be gen­uinely chal­leng­ing, as you try to de­ci­pher their mean­ing and re­spond with­out of­fend­ing them.

The game of­fers a bal­ance of sur­vival­ist mechanics and tra­di­tional RPG quests. You can descend into a planet’s at­mos­phere to col­lect re­sources, and re­pair and up­grade your ship, or earn money by as­sist­ing other races with prob­lems. Th­ese eclec­tic mis­sions in­clude stag­ing a false kid­nap­ping so that a love-struck war­rior can woo a princess, and tak­ing an alien on a guided tour of a sys­tem. Al­most any in-game event can be the source of a story. Open­ing a cache of sup­plies could un­leash a deadly in­fes­ta­tion that slowly spreads through your crew.

All the above works splen­didly, un­like the con­trols. TLJH mim­ics ac­tual space flight, so thrust and in­er­tia must be con­sid­ered when mov­ing, which makes ba­sic tasks such as or­bit­ing plan­ets un­nec­es­sar­ily dif­fi­cult. Plan­e­tary move­ment is even worse, as you only have up and down thrusters, and must ro­tate the lan­der to move side­ways. Cou­ple th­ese con­trols with each planet’s vary­ing grav­ity, and just land­ing in the right spot be­comes a mas­sive chore.

Each over­shot or­bit and missed land­ing costs you vi­tal fuel and causes dam­age, turn­ing what’s ini­tially an in­con­ve­nience into a po­ten­tially game-ending fac­tor that must be con­stantly con­sid­ered. Yet be­cause the game is 2D, con­trol­ling the ship isn’t that in­ter­est­ing any­way; the con­trols only ob­scure what in­ter­est­ing about the game – its quests, ad­ven­tures and per­son­able uni­verse. With stan­dard con­trols, TLJH would be a de­cent game, but it’s cur­rently a frus­trat­ing missed op­por­tu­nity.

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