THE JOURNEY DOWN
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on July 4, 2018
What started as a small idea became a successful Kickstarter project and now the dream of Swedish game studio SkyGoblin has come true! During the months of May and June of this year, The Journey Down trilogy was released for Playstation 4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. So it's about time to take a closer look at this awesome point and click game, don't you agree?
The first thing that caught my eye, or better said my ear, is the great Bob-Marley-like soundtrack. Right away I'm in the mood for sun, beach and cocktails. It sets the right reggae mood and fits the theme perfectly. The Journey Down takes place in a city called Central Saint Armado; a peaceful place where everyone is content... or so they would have you believe! There's something fishy going on here... A villain is in search of a certain book: the journal of The Journey Down. To obtain this book, and he sends his two most evil henchmen to retrieve it for him, by any means necessary. But alas, the one who has the book is long gone and, more importantly, the book is nowhere to be found!
After that, we meet main character Bwana. He has enough problems of his own already; he owns a gas station, but because they didn't pay the bills (which is, of course, completely not his own fault!) so now the power is cut off by the power company. Luckily, Bwana and his sidekick mechanic-slash-brother Kito have a solution for everything! Getting into trouble doesn't scare those two rascals; in fact, they welcome a bit of mischief-related trouble now and again. Every time they read a warning or see a danger symbol, they just have to mess with it, which makes this game hilarious by the way!
Early on in the game, the brothers get a visit of a woman named Lina, who's looking for an old book. It soon becomes apparent that she is actually looking for the same journal as the villains in the intro cutscene. Bwana remembers a bunch of old books in the attic, so the first order of business is getting up there. Eventually, Lina and Bwana find the journal, which tells the way to reach the mysterious Underworld. And somehow it seems that everything is connected to Bwana and Kito's father, who disappeared years ago, by the way. A journal like that should be protected and should never fall into the wrong hands, right?
The Journey Down is a trilogy, so the game comes, as one might suspect, in three chapters. Now, the very first incarnation of The Journey Down was released for Windows back in 2010. It was made in Adventure Game Studio and was a low-res version of the game we're playing today. The first chapter was eventually redone and released in 2012 and the second in 2014. Both chapters were available on both Steam and the App Store. For the third and final chapter they started a Kickstarter campaign. After this campaign ended most successfully, chapter three was released on September 21, 2017. And now, not even a year later, the entire trilogy is finally complete for additional consoles, thanks to the talented people at Blitworks! These latest additions make The Journey Down available on PC, Linux, OS X, iOs, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.
I really love the art style of The Journey Down. The first time you see Bwana and Kito, it is immediately clear that their faces are inspired by traditional African masks. Through the entire game you will notice African-rooted details like patterns, fabric and carvings. Together with the great soundtrack, it gives off a cool vibe and really sets the Afro-Caribbean mood. The Journey Down is an adventure that makes you want to bounce up and down in your seat and shout things like: "Sanka, are you dead? Ya, man!" At least, that's what happened to me...
The Journey Down is a fine example of a good point and click game, so you're in for a lot of puzzling, talking to people and connecting the proverbial dots. The developers explain on their Kickstarter page, that they are inspired by the golden oldies like the Monkey Island games and Grim Fandango. I couldn't agree more; it definitely has the humor of Monkey Island and the art style of Grim Fandango, but without ever simply copying those games.
It has to be said that SkyGoblin mixed up a really cool batch of ingredients and created their very own adventure and setting. The puzzles are fun to solve and challenging enough, without ever being close to unsolvable. During the first chapter, I needed two engines, a propeller and something to steer with, in order to fix my plane. Next thing I know, I need a deckhand's outfit, five different spices, a fishing hook and slices of frozen bread! Why, I hear you ask? Well, play The Journey Down and it all will make sense soon enough!