Original Journey is a game where you play as a plant that goes to a planet to find a power source that you need to stop your planet from blowing up. I don’t know how this is even possible, but hey, plants with sapience!
The game’s basic premise is traveling to randomly generated “islands” that float in the air, defeat all the enemies on them, collect loot, and repeat until you die or run back to base with all your phat lewtz. If you die, you drop everything a-la Dark Souls, with one chance to reclaim it, but beware, ‘cause enemies in this game are tough, and your little plant guy can carry only two weapons into battle, with limited ammunition stores. Along the way, the equipment you gather can be used to upgrade your suit, your weapons, or even build a sidekick or towers.
The most fantastic thing about this game is it’s graphics. They have a Hollow Knight feel, if Holow Knight took place in a brighter, shinier place. I’m not talking down about anything else in this game, but the graphics are not only amazing, but they are all entirely hand-drawn. The black and white with the red highlights make important pieces stand out, but just the fantastic artistic work that went into this game REALLY sets it apart from others in the genre. I was in awe with how beautiful everything looked, and knowing someone spent a lot of time doing it all by hand really made me appreciate it more. Of course, I’m an art geek, so, it’s not necessarily important to everyone, but, to me, this makes the whole game worthwhile.
In this game, you start in a main base, and from that base, move further and further into the wilds of the giant forest. As you progress through the game, other areas open up to you, but, I’ll leave it up to you to find the other areas. There are bosses, crafting, and even a story with characters that are humorous and interesting. Everything about this game is done well. The combat seems shallow at first, but, once you realize the game is built around a set of rules and you just have to learn to exploit those rules, it’s quite challenging and fun.
I’ve only ran into a few situations where enemies appeared behind the UI and weren’t the type of enemies that automatically move toward you, and those were fairly obvious situations. Everything seems to be designed around progression, so, the game doesn’t hold you back unnecessarily to pad gameplay length. It’s not a super long game, but you can easily get 8-10 hours out of it. The crafting is kinda brutal, you’ll struggle to find pieces to finish your new equipment, but, I think that it’s a good thing. Once you get some of the upgrades, you’ll really feel like things that were once dangerous threats are fairly easy to overcome. The weapons all feel unique and different, but, you’ll end up wanting to keep the sword on you if your playstyle is like mine. It’s fairly easy to run out of ammunition if you want to use the guns, but, if you are careful you shouldn’t run out, and it’s not too hard to find ways to reload your weapons. The game’s design is such that the further from your base you go, the higher “level” the area is, which means that enemies come at you in bigger numbers, with additional types of enemies, or are in more dangerous landscapes. Traps litter the field of battle, and huge swarms WILL overwhelm you if you do not play intelligently.
Your tiny plant body isn’t designed to take a load of punishment, so your suit has to soak up the damage you take, and, if there’s anything I’ve learned from playing this game, getting hit by enemies is very dangerous. Once you start getting hit, it’s really hard to avoid continuing to take damage. It’s not a design feature, just something psychologically that happens, sorta like in Dark Souls.
This game fits into a weird niche genre. It’s a roguelite action adventure title with a clear and understandable story about plant people saving their home planet. You grow quickly in rank, and I suppose that’s necessary over the course of gameplay, but, it feels like it cheapens the military vibe of the organization a bit. It’s needed to make your character feel exceptional, but, over the course of the game, I didn’t feel exceptional, I felt like I was attempting to survive in a harsh and dangerous world. The connection to heroism wasn’t ever important to me, but I understand how it’s important to most gamers, that sense of uniqueness or amazing ability.
I suppose my only let-down in the entire game was that I didn’t feel exceptional during combat, but the game’s story attempted to make me feel that way. I think if the game worked itself out that you were never important, but were always in places where important things happened, that would have been fine with me.
This, of course, is a minor concern, the game’s dominant area of focus is on combat situations that get harder the further from base you go, and it does it well. Your gathering of loot and building upgrades are important, as well as the character’s experience and level gain are all part of the game’s ability to push you along slowly without handing you the world when you fail. It doesn’t make you invincible, but it makes it easier to deal with mistakes. Overall, I think this game does what it does well, and that’s provide a simple environment with unique weapons and a unique world, piled on top of a unique story that is both endearing and challenging. This is a really different game, and it’s very aptly named.
Disclosure: We received this game for free.
Developed by: Bonfire Entertainment
Produced by: Another Indie