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The Longest Journey (Windows)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
88
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9367)
Written on  :  Jul 18, 2001
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Summary

Great game, tough far from perfect

The Good

Gee, where to start? The Longest Journey is a great game, its overflowing with creativity and originality, its got a great epic storyline and it's got tremendous production values. Graphically speaking the game is stunning, even on a 16-bit video card the game looks amazing, with some gorgeously drawn backgrounds with very well blended polygonal characters on top. Great sound and music complement the artwork, and the fmv cut scenes are no slouches either (tough the character animation there is somewhat awkward).

Technically the game is great, but it's the creative side of things that make it a winner. The story is great, rivaling the "epicness" of the Final Fantasy games, and without the need to add cheap melodramas. But the characters are outstanding, the entire cast is excellently developed and backed by a superb voice acting , especially April. And speaking of April, she has got to be the best female character ever to grace a videogame, bar none. She's neither the kick-ass babe/femme fatale type that is so popular nowadays on PC games (Tanya, Lara, etc.) nor the "Touching" type so popular in console games (Square, hello??). She's a complex yet down to earth and genuinely interesting character, with a very cynical personality. In fact, she's almost like a more humbler, less-stereotyped version of Daria, and I found myself laughing and smirking at April's sarcastic and often feminist remarks and observations. A feat I am unable to perform when watching MTV's snobbish/ stereotyped female star.

The interface too is refined with a nice pop-up menu for actions and a feature that makes your pointer blink whenever the action you want to perform (with an item) is possible, saving you the hassle of going through those annoying "can't do this" messages.

A great story and characters coupled with tremendous production values! You couldn't possibly go wrong here, could you?? well...

The Bad

I have a series of gripes with this game, first of all it's buggy, something which I cannot understand given the "on-tracks" linear nature of adventure games, seriously, I suffered it all on this game, even the dreaded Police Station bug (tough thankfully there's a patch for this one).

Second and more important: dialogue. Oh god the dialogue! it's so good, and so well acted....yet it's made sooooo utterly looong and booooring. You watch the characters talk and talk from the same static faaaaaar view every single time. Why was this made so? couldn't they at least make some close-ups pop up with a generic background? I'm not expecting a cinematic treatment like in Gabriel Knight 3, since there is no 3D environment here, but c'mon! Plus it's made more boring by the lack of interaction, Planescape: Torment is a game with at least twice as much dialogue as this one (and not voiced-over mind you) but it's never made boring because the dialogue is selected by YOU, even if to just say ok, or a-ha. On TLJ you select your dialogue too, but just the starting subject/query, so you click on an option and Wham! 1-2 minutes of conversation go by without any involvement of your part at all.

This has a bigger impact on game play than you think, since a lot of the puzzles in the game are simply talked trough. That's right, you'll find as you advance the game that the ratio of item/logic-puzzles vs. talking "puzzles" goes down, and hits an all time low on say...the Alatien village. Picture this: you have to prove to a guard that you are the "Windbringer" and to do so you must prove your knowledge of 4 ancient stories. What do you do? you embark on a quest to find the stories? you face a deduction puzzle were you have to make up the stories? nope. You just go around the village and ask the villagers to tell you the stories. yup. And yes, they are LOOOOOOOOONG, and you must listen through 5 minutes each (at least, tough they seem like 30-40 minutes each actually) just so you get the right options to answer when you are questioned by the guard.

This also brings me to another thing: the game's too easy. Period. The few puzzles around are rather easy to figure and most of the time involve Fed-Ex puzzles, and as you can see from the example above much of the game's bulk is made of knowing when to talk to the right person.

The Bottom Line

Essentially The Longest Journey is a tremendous gaming experience, but not a memorable adventure game. When I think of TLJ in terms of the story and characters, I think of it as a masterpiece of creativity, but when I think of it as a game all I can think of is of an easy adventure which required a LOT of stamina to endure.