By Ronald Gordon
Not many point and click games grab my attention but there are some that I come across that really catch my eye and draw me in with their stories. The Journey Down is one of those select few that I actually played all the way through.
The Journey Down is a three-part point and click adventure game developed and published by Skygoblin. It tells the story of Bwana, a rastafarian dude without a care in the world, and his adventures with his brother Kito and a lady named Lina, who all venture to find a mysterious place that no one has traveled to and come back alive. The place is called The Underland and though there are stories of it, no one really knows what secrets it holds in its depths.
The story starts out with Bwana and Kito running a derelict gas station in a place called Kingsport Bay. One day, a lady named Lina shows up and turns their lives upside down with an almost never ending adventure that starts with a book titled “The Journal of The Journey Down.” This book isn’t like any other, as it was written by Bwana and Kito’s adopted father Kaonandodo. Eventually, the trio find themselves in the middle of nowhere inside of a crashed plane, which is where chapter two begins. After the crash, our trio is rescued by a group of lost Misters who take them aboard their ship after catching the plane in their eel net to keep it from falling farther down into the mist. The Misters are so named because most of their world is covered by a thick and unbreakable mist with untold horrors within.
After helping the lost Misters find out where they are and how to get to the closest port, the trio ends up in Port Artue, a dark and dirt-filled city, where Bwana and Kito are arrested for unknown reasons, and Lina is taken into custody by the corrupt police chief, Barlow. Bwana and Kito escape to the city and eventually find Lina and their wrecked, and now impounded, plane. While Kito repairs the plane, Bwana and Lina attempt to uncover the mystery as to why Barlow and the St. Armando Power Company are trying to cover up information about The Underland.
After a brief visit to an old police station, Bwana and Lina find that Kaonandodo wasn’t alone when he explored The Underland. It turns out that Barlow was also part of the expedition and was one of the many people put in charge of keeping it a secret. Once Bwana and Lina make it back to the city, Barlow helps them escape from the St. Armando Power Company’s private mercenaries and gives up his life to redeem himself for turning into the crooked police chief he is. With Barlow gone and the power company hot on their tails, our trio risks it all and takes their plane on a nose dive through the mist, setting foot on their own journey down to The Underland.
The Journey Down is simply stunning; the scenery and the places you visit are all hand painted and done very well. The characters have their own individuality as their looks are all based on Afro-Caribbean art and culture. The music in the game is fitting for the scenes it’s in and really drives home the whole old jazzy vibe of the game and the city of Port Artue. As you might’ve guessed from my description above, I’m a sucker for a good story, and The Journey Down has a phenomenally gripping plot that made me wonder what was going to happen next. The Journey Down also had a way of mixing comedy into some of its scenes, which made me appreciate the game even more. One example of this is the prison scene where, in order to free Bwana from his chains, you have to make him kick Kito’s bunk three times. That causes Kito to hit his head on Bwana’s chains and break their lock. That scene made me laugh; the solution was so simple and out-in-the-open. And even though Kito hits his head, he still laughs along with Bwana at the fact that the bunk is broken.
The gameplay was simple, really: move the cursor to where you want Bwana to walk or what you want him to interact with, and he does so by moving something or combining something else with a part of the scenery. There are no quick time events and no buggy movements, just a point-and-click mechanic and a few buttons to open and interact with your inventory and the items within.
The Journey Down is a game I’d highly recommend to someone who wants to experience a compelling story with eye-catching artwork and pleasing music – without a myriad of buttons to press. The character interactions and the comedy that’s added on gave me a good laugh whenever they appeared and I know that they can do the same for others that experience them.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.