The Longest Journey - game review
Let me start with a bit unusual. I will ask a question and each of you should try to answer it yourself. How many times in your entire biography of a computer gamer, dear reader, have you installed a game on your hard drive that you have heard little or even nothing about, and when, after a dozen or so hours in front of the monitor, you finally managed to tear off with red eyes? a sigh escaped from your mouth: "This is the greatest game I have ever played"? Not very often, right?
This situation happened to me only twice. The first time I put a plate into the reader, which I took from a not very nice box labeled "Unreal". Must I add why? Probably not. Who of us, computer geeks, has not personally encountered this masterpiece, which, even now, and several years have passed since its premiere, delights with its fabulous graphics? Those who have not spent hours fighting the sneaky Skaar, have not stood in silent admiration at the edge of the abyss, staring at the falling waterfalls, or admiring their reflection in the floor, this cannot claim to be a real player and should catch up as soon as possible. Especially that nowadays this miracle of computer graphics can be bought for pennies, and even some people include it as an addition to their magazine. But let's go back from NaPali and look at the second title that I mentioned slightly earlier, which deserves to be called the greatest game I have ever played.
When a box with the title "The Longest Journey" and the logos of the completely unknown company "FunCom" and the well-known "CD-Projekt" landed on my desk, at first I did not show much desire to start installing a new game.
I had just come back from Monkey Island to then fight a deadly battle with the Prince of Darkness, and was a bit tired of solving puzzles and untangling cunningly confusing plots by game developers. In addition, when I saw four CDs in a box, I said to myself: "Enough, too much for me." Only at the urging of a friend from a country where winter lasts much longer than in our country, and who has already completed his Longest Journey a long time ago, did I gather and put the CD into the drive.
And that was a mistake because for the next two days I was gone to the world. I did not answer the phone, I ate little, drank liters of coffee and played, played, played. This game completely took over my mind, because even during those few hours of sleep, I dreamed of Arcadia and fought the Avant-garde. And it wasn't until the Thirteenth Ranger had taken his seat that I could barely get away from my computer, only to announce to everyone I met that "The Longest Journey" is the greatest game in the world. And the best adventure game for sure. And woe to those who try to disagree with me ...
The Longest Journey is a classic adventure game. Actually, this short statement should answer the question of how to play this kind of games for anyone who has dealt with this type of game. After installing and starting the game, or if you prefer to start your journey, we will find ourselves in a cozy cottage, where by the fireplace an old lady tells a story, a story that has become a turning point in the history of Balance, and had its beginning and end where everything begins ends and ends in the Guardian's Tower.
And it was all a dream. April Ryan was an ordinary, unremarkable eighteen-year-old girl who decided to leave her hometown and flee to the big city. In addition to family problems, she was also driven by the desire to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. One April day in 2209, she packed some of her drawings, took the $ 2,190 saved, and made her way to Newport, in whose neighborhood called Venice, the Academy of her dreams. Would she decide to take this step if she could predict what adventures await her in a few months? Who knows.
She was completely absorbed in the preparation of the exhibition of paintings when, one night in July, she dreamed a strange dream about a white dragon, a talking tree and a huge egg that she had to save from falling into the abyss. What was the cause of these strange dreams? Why did she dream about it? When April set out to find answers to these questions, the results of this search exceeded her wildest expectations.
She met the "Tale of Balance". According to her, there are two worlds: Stark - the world of science in which April lived, and Arkadia - the world of magic.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was only one world where science and magic coexisted peacefully. But people decided to become too powerful, and without knowing it themselves, using the combined power of science and magic, they aimed at self-destruction. An alien race called the Dragon Tribe decided to prevent this. To this end, they set up a Council of Priests, which divided science and magic into two independent worlds, and established a Guardian to guard the Balance between these worlds.
This guardian resided in the great Tower and changed every thousand years. But as usual, nothing beautiful lasts forever. As a result of a quarrel between the Priests from Stark and Arcadia, the former decided to separate themselves and formed their own sect, which they called the Avant-garde, seeking to seize power over the Guardian. And it so happened that the Guardian came out of his Tower, and for this reason, for several hundred years now, the Balance was threatened, and the Vanguard was getting closer and closer to seizing power over both worlds. So someone had to find the Guardian or take his place in the Tower himself. Guess Who?
Although everything I wrote about above, we will not find out right away, at the very beginning of the game, but the well-made intro will allow us to feel the atmosphere there. At the same time, the simple tasks that we have to perform in the prologue will make it easier to get to know the interface and how to control the character. We also saturate our eyes with wonderful graphics and our ears with amazing music. And there is something to admire.
First things first. Let's start with controlling the character of April, an element that in many games was able to lead the players to a shoemaker's passion. In the times of two-dimensional games, control was usually limited to pressing directional keys. It was very simple and convenient. After moving into the third dimension, game developers began to mess around and in some cases made it so difficult to perform these seemingly simple activities that the otherwise great story-driven games were abandoned. In the case of "The Longest Journey", fortunately, the authors decided to follow the simplest possible line of resistance and the whole character control of our heroine was reduced to simply clicking the mouse. April then goes wherever we want. At the same time, as it happens in adventure games, we look carefully at the mouse cursor and if its shape changes, it means that we can perform some action at this point. Simple? And how convenient.
Now a few words about the ways of using various items that our heroine will have to use during the game. By pressing the left button, you can check what is currently in April's pocket at any time, and after clicking on a specific item, a menu with hints appears, what we can do with it at the moment. If at present nothing comes to our mind to use anything, just move the cursor outside the pocket and it will disappear instantly. Doesn't it say that simplicity is mastery?
During the game, we can use April's diary, in which the most important events that took place and her most interesting thoughts are automatically saved. They are written in a lively, funny language that faithfully reflects the way a teenager perceives the world. We can save the game at any time, in an album format that I would recommend to anyone who loves writing computer games.
Playing adventure games, and believe me, I have been doing this for quite a few years, I usually found something in each of them that was bad for my nerves and made me have reservations. I have already mentioned the character controls or the ill-conceived use of the handheld pocket. Another such element that often caused my teeth to grind were the dexterity elements. Everyone who has come across the products of the Sierra company knows what I am talking about.
Wandering with Miss Ryan around Stark and Arkadia, at times I had doubts as to whether the creators of the game had not thought of hiding something unexpectedly, which would mean that instead of straining the gray cells in the fight against the Avant-garde, I would be forced to play in which as fast as possible pressing the keys or the mouse button will count. And now that I have completed my Longest Journey, I can honestly assure you that there is not a single arcade element in the entire game. Even during the fight with, for example, Toothless, we do not have to rush anywhere, but only indicate April's target and tool, and she will know what to do. The men from "FunCom" did not have to artificially extend the time of the game, unlike those from "Sierra". It is long enough.
The same applies to the difficulty level of the puzzles that we will have to face during the journey. In this type of games, apart from an interesting plot, they are the most important element that may or may not determine the popularity of the game itself. Different authors approach this in different ways. Some try hard to make the puzzles as difficult as possible and thanks to that the player will spend as much time as possible in the game world. Then, most often, it is not possible to do without repeating the same activities many times, talking to the same people, drawing and writing something on sheets, and even, for the less patient, reaching for the solution of the game. Otherwise, we solve the puzzles without the slightest effort, shrugging our shoulders with surprise that the developers had such a low opinion of the player's state of mind. So the trick is to balance the difficulty level so as not to discourage the player for one reason or another. And the artists from this tiny Norwegian company managed to do it brilliantly. There is no way to say that the puzzles in "The Longest Journey" cannot be solved as long as you force your gray cells to a little effort. You can't get stuck in the game on any of them, and at the same time, when you manage to find a solution, we feel satisfaction and contentment with ourselves.
The game world on which we will be able to move has been presented in beautiful, three-dimensional graphics. I must honestly admit that so far I have not had the opportunity to play an adventure game with such wonderful graphics. One would like to say: It cannot be a game, this world is alive.
When you go out to the streets of Venice and immerse yourself in their lanes, bustling with big city noise, full of residents busy with everyday problems, you will immediately understand what I am talking about. There are no static, meaningless and purposeless figures here that fill the background. We can talk to virtually every character, learn something from them. But you should hurry, because in a place where the policeman has just pointed out to the young people that skateboarding is forbidden, a pair will appear on their first date. Therefore, it is worth taking a moment to have a few words with each one, because even what we learn does not bring anything new to the game, we will get to know a new character and its story.
As I have already mentioned, all this takes place in a world that was not only perfectly designed by the authors, but also made. The fabulously colorful graphics make us immerse ourselves in new locations with pleasure, admiring the perfection of the people responsible for the visual side of the game. They took care of even the smallest graphic details, but their mastery was best presented in these several films, which are in a class by themselves. When I watched April's passage between the worlds for the first time, the Guardian in the Tower or Żerlica attacking, I wanted to watch these films all the time. Believe me, these are real gems. Fortunately, care was taken so that I could reach for them in the Archives and enjoy their perfect execution many times.
The quality of the graphic design is matched by the sound and music. While the sounds in the game have been well balanced, very well selected and stick to, say, a good, world level, the music track deserves all possible awards. The action of the game, because it takes place in two very different worlds, had to be enriched with appropriate music, so that it emphasized not only the atmosphere of the game, but also changed depending on the place where our heroine was. And so it was realized. Great, modern sounds in Stark turned into a pathos and moody choral singing emphasized by strings when April entered the Arcadia gates. I give you my word that a separately released music CD for this game would be worth a lot of money. It's a pity the publisher didn't think about it early.
"The Longest Journey" was created, as I mentioned before, by a small Norwegian company "FunCom" and released in Europe, surprisingly, at the end of the year ... 1999. Yes, it is not a fresh product.
So you can wonder how it happened that only recently (December 2000) appeared on our market, but still we should pay tribute to the company "CD-Projekt" that decided to transfer this gem to our market. And this in a version that is completely understandable to every inhabitant of the country on the Vistula River, a country where English is an impassable barrier for too many.
Usually, I approach all kinds of games whose localization was contributed by people from the CD-Projekt brand with a lot of credit of trust, as they are usually characterized by a rare attention to the quality of translation and performance. Yes, no one is perfect, and this company also has a few products that can be ignored, but you can usually see that they tried very hard to ensure that the product that leaves their company is best released. And these are not just empty compliments, and I am not associated, as one might suppose, with "CD-Projekt".
But what was achieved in the preparation of the Polish language version of "The Longest Journey" I can honestly call a championship. The very translation of the texts, during which there was no fear of leaving words generally considered offensive, but the use of which by individual characters is so natural, through the sensational selection of actors providing voices for the characters of the game (sensational Kruk), up to we have such a willingness to speak out. Many may have reservations as to the language spoken by some characters, but firstly, it is a game for adults who are rather adults, and secondly, don't our youth use worse vocabulary on a daily basis? They are unlikely to be surprised by any word in the game. Anyway, there is never a shortage of malcontents who will always look for a hole in the whole.
My opinion on the Polish language version is the best and I do not intend to change it. Longest Journey is the most localized game I have ever dealt with. And enough.
Time to summarize everything I wrote earlier. The Longest Journey has everything a perfect adventure game should have. Incredibly fascinating story that will not let us break away from the monitor even for a moment, sensational and how simple system of character control and the use of individual items, excellent graphics with many films, carefully selected sounds accompanying the game and a great music track that is brilliantly emphasizes the atmosphere of the game. And let's add a great location to it. At the same time, many traps that await the developers of this type of games have been avoided.
All this together means that I personally considered "The Longest Journey" to be the greatest game I have played so far. Or at least among adventure games. And I will not change my opinion for any treasures.