Jul 22, 2017 Last Updated 9:22 PM, Jul 21, 2017

The Long Journey Home Review

Published in Strategy
Read 426 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The leap home

You have one destination, but there are many paths to follow. Every stop risks death for yourself and your crew, yet if you don’t collect resources, death is a certainty. Past choices haunt you. Did you choose the right ship, the best crew? Should you have helped that alien when you had the chance?  Whatever the consequences of your decisions, you can’t go back now. There’s only forward, and the hope that the next leap will be the leap home.

Something Old, Something New

The Long Journey Home (TLJH) Home is a roguelike space-exploration title with elements of resource management, space combat, and diplomacy. If you’ve played many space exploration games, TLJH might feel familiar to you. It upcycles core components of other titles in the genre, repackaging them into a single unit. For example, the premise, story arc, and resource management are similar to Mi-Clos Studio’s Out There. In Out There, the universe is static, though, and there’s only one crewman. TLJH picks up elements from Subset Game’s FTL: Faster Than Light in this respect, incorporating crew selection and management, along with randomly-generated universes and combat.  Gamers who remember Atari’s Lunar Lander will experience pangs of nostalgia, along with a familiar burning frustration, when trying to navigate TLJHs landing pod.

Despite similarities to other titles, TLJH isn’t a slavish remake. Unique, well-written characters and a diverse narrative entices the player to emotionally invest in the storyline. Far from tropish cardboard cutouts, the crew choices are balanced and offer options that stand outside convention without being in-your-face about it. The hardcore engineer and mission planner are women, and another character is both married and gay. These inclusions don’t feel like a forced attempt at political correctness. Rather, it enhances their humanity because they are more than Standard Hero or Standard Hot Badass Female; they’re people with whom you can see yourself sharing a pint, if you lived in their universe.

Adding layers of replayability and believability, the personalities and skills of the crew impact the storyline and outcome of events. You have to know your team, to utilize their abilities effectively. Some teams are stronger than others, and the only way to figure out the best combination is through experimentation.

Grab a Notebook

It is useful to have a notebook handy when playing TLJH: it does not operate in easy mode, even in the beginning.  Since you don’t gain power with each run, your only weapon is knowledge; keeping thorough notes improves the odds of success.

Several alien races populate the universe, and most will not waste their day idly chatting with lost explorers. Although there are extensive dialogue trees for each encounter, you can’t access all of them before the creature with whom you’re speaking tires of you. As a gamer that will read everything a character has to say, I found this disappointing. It does, however, encourage replay.

Needed: Great Pilots

It is doubtful that anyone will accuse TLJH of being too easy. Like many roguelike games, it is more of a wandering death labyrinth than an environment that invites exploration. But, it isn’t just the many fatal scenarios that give TLJH it’s challenge — it’s the minigames.

Landing, or assuming an orbit around a new planet requires skill, timing, and patience. Factors, like gravity and wind, play a role in the difficulty of each procedure, and you must learn to make fast-paced adjustments to avoid crashing or burning too much fuel. An in-game tooltip hints that using a controller may be easier than mouse and keyboard for flying. Perhaps this should be a requirement rather than a suggestion, because the difference between the two is absurd.

When using the mouse and keyboard for flying, it took twenty irritating, disheartening minutes to obtain orbit around Mars in the tutorial area. After wasting half my fuel, I was ready to rage-quit. I switched to a controller and grabbed orbit on the first try. This is unfortunate for those who are limited to (or prefer) keyboard only. Resources are dear, and wasting them on fumbles only adds to the overall difficulty.

TLJH’s skill challenges don’t enhance the overall enjoyability of the title. If anything, they’re a detriment. A good run can be wiped out with a single bad landing or battle, and though the game saves, it only saves progress. Death means starting over from the beginning. You aren’t eased into the skills necessary to master the challenges, either. This sets a higher entry point for players to achieve any level of success, which may drive some to give up in frustration.

Explore, But Not Too Much

Players excited by procedurally-generated universes and planetary exploration might not find everything they want in TLJH.  Although the galaxies are breathtakingly beautiful and wild vistas on strange planets excitingly alien, there isn’t much to see or do once you’re on a planet. You land, collect your resources from a limited area on a 2D plane, and then return to your ship. Hopefuls for a piece that delivered on the promise of No Man’s Sky won’t find it in TLJH. It’s lovely, but planetary visits are only a tiny, limited portion of the gameplay.

7

The Verdict

What The Long Journey Home lacks in originality in its gameplay, it makes up for with realism in its characters and extensive narrative. It draws the player into a harsh, unforgiving universe that is as strange as it is beautiful. Wit, skill, and determination are needed to survive, but even with these, success is not guaranteed. Gamers who enjoy a challenge and the thrill of the unknown will get the most out of The Long Journey Home.

Phoebe Knight

Phoebe Knight is a freelance writer and novelist. She cut her baby teeth on the original King’s Quest, and has loved gaming ever since. Phoebe’s favorite games are usually weird ones with quirky storylines, but she has also logged an embarrassing volume of hours in sweeping open-world fantasy games like Skyrim and Witcher 3.

Website: www.phoebeknight.com

Related items

  • Train Sim World Launch Date Announced

    You’ve been invited to work for Great Western Railways as a driver of high-speed and commuter passenger trains on one of Britain’s busiest railways. Train Sim World®: Great Western Express gives you a timetable to keep and thousands of passengers to transport on time, meaning your skill, focus and endurance “will be tested to the limit.”

  • The Surge Demo Now Available

    Play the game from the very beginning as you start your battle through CREO, a megacorporation hit by a devastating catastrophe. The demo features hours of unlocked content, and progression will carry over to the full game when you decide to continue the fight. You’ll pick up exactly where you left off.

  • The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 5 Review

    The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 5 is a gripping, emotional ending to this chapter in the series, but it's also one that doesn't quite hit the mark as well as the prior seasons of this successful franchise have. When it comes to the grand finale, players simply deserved a bigger, more satisfying resolution to Javier's story and the outcome facing him and his loved ones. And, while I did enjoy Clem's ending – again, I'll keep it vague – Clem's presence alone isn't enough to carry this piece of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier to the heights that prior episodes in this saga could reach.

More in this category: Rezrog Review »

Latest Shows

PREY - AAA Anony…

With AAA Anonymous, we discuss our latest AAA game addiction, until the next one replaces it. This episode covers Arkane's anticipated 2017 release: PREY.

The Search Inter…

Embark on a journey of discovery and inspiration in The Search - a story-driven puzzle-adventure set in a mysterious world where art comes to life! In an unknown world, you'll sear...

Out Soon

PC Gaming Incoming

The Inner World …

The flute nose dynasty has been watching over Asposia for centuries on end. In secret, they fill the...

Fortnite

Fortnite is described as a co-op sandbox survival game and is about exploration, scavenging items, c...

Pyre

A New World From the Creators of Bastion and Transistor, Pyre is a party-based RPG in which you lead...

Neverwinter: Tom…

Neverwinter’s Harpers seek to end the wickedness of a new death curse on the jungle peninsula of Chu...

The Walking Dead…

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 5 is a gripping, emotional ending to this chapter in the series, but it's also one that doesn't quite hit the mark as well as the prior s...

Late Shift Revie…

Late Shift is interactive storytelling at its finest, a Full-Motion Video (FMV) title where Choices Matter. This gripping "crime thriller" puts players in the hot seat, allowing th...

Yonder: The Clou…

For an open-world, immersive experience replete with quests, fishing, farms, and more, look no further than Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. The design is apt to please any ga...

Fable Fortune Ea…

Fable Fortune breaks free of closed beta and into the free-to-play wild on July 25, 2017. Should you feed it or shoot it? Is it good or evil? Most importantly, can you kick chicken...