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The Longest Journey (Windows)

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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  :  András Gregorik (65)
Written on  :  Dec 29, 2005
Rating  :  2.17 Stars2.17 Stars2.17 Stars2.17 Stars2.17 Stars

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Summary

"That is so... uncool."

The Good

This game is regarded as a minor classic. It put its then-young designer on the map, and became one of the bestselling adventure titles of its era. It certainly has great production values, an epic story, plenty of conversation and plenty to do. Other reviewers do a great job heaping praise on it, so I'll just skip to the next part.

The Bad

The three basic elements that arguably make an adventure game tick are story, characters and atmosphere. So let's see a rundown.

Story: 'The Thirteenth Floor' and 'The Matrix', two films with a similar basic idea both came out about a year before the game was released, but the 'parallel universes' premise was already considered age-old in the 80's ('Labyrinth', 'Ultima 1-6' etc.). This game turns out to be yet another variation on the theme. Nothing groundbreaking.

Characters and Dialogs: this is a biggie. In terms of classic adventure games, it apparently takes a Ron Gilbert or a Jane Jensen to dream up memorable heroes and supporting players, and this game simply doesn't have what it takes. The characters and their dialogs are either lifeless or even worse. In fact, April Ryan of The Longest Journey may well be the single most irritating protagonist in a major adventure game ever. For me anyway. The author clearly made a grave mistake by turning her both 18 and a bland partygirl. Her incessant cries and whines of 'Duh!' or 'That is so... uncool.' along with her overemphasized hipster attitude were probably designed to appeal to, well, fellow hipsters I guess. Monkey Island 1-2 or Gabriel Knight did not resort to similar gimmicks and still drew in quite a fanbase. Guybrush Threepwood in particular was 19 without being annoying. Gabriel Knight was a brooding charmer. Zak McKracken was something of a lonely young bachelor. My point is that if you can't grow attached to the protagonist in an adventure game, your experience goes downhill quick. That's what happened to me here. April Ryan is the kind of vapid-girl-in-tight-pants that I wouldn't want as a steady girlfriend -- and even less so as a heroine in an epic adventure game I intend to play through to the end. She does write a diary throughout the story but the things she writes in it read like bits of throwaway chitchat from some high school party. The diary feature adds no layer of much-needed depth to the proceedings, because April has no layer of depth. In turn, none of her friends or associates are fleshed out either: we get two run-of-the-mill best friends who have nothing substantial to say or contribute at all.

Atmosphere: starts great, goes downhill once I realized the earlier points. In other words, the combined lack of a tight, original story and that of full-blooded, endearing characters result an inevitable lack of a strong atmosphere.

The Bottom Line

I wanted to like this game, as fans of elaborate and serious-minded old-school adventure games are not exactly spoiled since the late 80's to mid 90's boom of those great LucasArts, Sierra and Legend titles. I think The Longest Journey was a nice try, but I couldn't warm up to its semi-recycled story and especially to its blasé hipster heroine. So it's purely up to personal taste. Your mileage may vary, especially if you regard yourself a hipster, I suppose. Deck tassel, cronkite.