The Long Journey Home is that title that comes a little quietly, that game that hasn't been talked about much and that, in all likelihood, will fly under the radar of players after launch. Yet we proposed it to you a few weeks ago in preview and today we return to talk about it in the review, because of interesting ideas, the new production of Daedalic Entertainment, really hides an avalanche. To discover them all, however, a handful of hours will certainly not be enough and this journey in the galaxy promises to be difficult and particularly punitive, so much so that it requires absolute commitment and dedication to be completed. The will of the developers is in fact to offer a multitude of different gaming experiences, to create a dialogue between the players in the community to bring out as many hidden secrets as possible, a noble and mammoth intent but also particularly difficult to complete. We have heard dozens of promises of this type in recent months and even just thinking about No Man's Sky should give you an idea of how fragile are the balances of titles ready to give you boundless space by promising infinite variables. Will The Long Journey Home have succeeded instead in the enterprise?
Sweet Home Alabama
A leap into hyperspace gone wrong, a spacecraft lost in the galaxies and a crew of four who must find alone, with the little knowledge available, the way back to Earth. Three simple elements that represent everything you need to know to start this new space adventure. In fact, The Long Journey Home is not lost in preambles and, with the exception of a minute tutorial, it quickly abandons you in deep space hoping you can get by on your own: trust us if we tell you that you will not be. The information in your possession before starting to play is in fact few and confusing. You will be allowed to take on board four specialists among the ten available but you will not be able to know how these will be useful during the adventure and, in hindsight, this situation will also be repeated for all your other games. About your crew it is interesting to discover the behaviors of the various protagonists, their interactions and their wishes but everything is hidden and hidden under a carpet inexplicably. A feature that is often lost guilty, taken as you will be in looking for the next refueling point.
In fact, The Long Journey Home procedurally creates a star map at your every restart, hides unprecedented pitfalls at every leap between one system and another and will set you against different civilizations, with different desires from time to time. Like any self-respecting roguelike, the difficulty is therefore absolutely not assessable because, basically, it changes according to your luck. If luck will assist you then the members of your crew could have the skills needed to carry out the missions, otherwise you will find yourself limping right away in a hostile space and determined to crush you. Randomness, in other words, is king once again. There are only two other factors under your control before departure which essentially concern the spaceship you will guide and the landing probe, which you can select from a short list of aircraft (a few more ships would not have been bad in fact) and that will direct you towards a very specific style of play. On the one hand there are cargo ships made to travel slowly and collect large amounts of resources and on the other ships made instead to be able to make fewer jumps in hyperspace but of greater length, obviously requiring less resources for survival. Whichever option you choose, the interstellar map will then make you understand if you have had a good idea or if yours will prove to be a rash move. To try to limit the randomness factor, Daedalic then thought of inserting a unique code for the creation of the universe, a string inextricably linked to your game world so that you can try again to travel to a known galaxy, slightly removing the taste for discovery. but making more accessible a title that often shows an exacerbating difficulty, especially if taken lightly in the initial stages.
But had I parked so far?
You will die often and in the most atrocious ways: your crew will be torn apart, flooded with radiation, suffocate, suffer fractures, take fatal alien diseases and face every other terrible fate that can come to your mind, time and time again. To prevent this from happening, you will be called upon to calmly explore the galaxy, gather resources from the planets and forge alliances with the hundreds of alien species that populate your universe. You will meet peaceful and friendly peoples and other ferocious and bloodthirsty races in a continuous succession of events that will make your expedition a real nightmare. When things get really bad you can't help but arm your cannons and open fire with extremely simplified combat mechanics using portions of the astral map as an arena. The game system will provide you with many tools for dialogue, will provide you with options to decide what to do and how to behave and your actions could have consequences even in the long run, or maybe go completely unnoticed. Once you are alone at the controls of your ship you will have to set the course using the gravity of the planets as a whip to save fuel while traveling but also to perfectly calibrate the docking curve to get into orbit. In this case the autopilot system will meet you but it is not that complex to steer the ship and the intuitive controls facilitate a task that could have become truly traumatic given the number of times you will be called to repeat it. You will find yourself jumping from planet to planet with ease, dodging meteorites as you float among the stars, with one eye on the hull armor and the other on the fuel tank.
However, it is only the first galaxies that are really interesting after which all the good ideas mentioned so far are diluted, due to a marked repetition of the actions that unfortunately and inevitably leads to boredom, despite a game will take you away on average about six hours. Thus, you travel from planet to planet looking for only those that can be useful for the mission, deliberately avoiding those dangerous or uninviting and their appearance, also procedurally generated, is overshadowed, becoming a mere display of colors while the player chases the deposits of resources or alien structures to be explored as a textual adventure. Each planet then has its gravity, its temperature and several other peculiarities that modify the methods of approach but in the long run, when you drive the lander to touch the earth and extract the minerals, you will always find yourself acting in the same way. The Unreal Engine 4 used to give life to The Long Journey Home seems almost wasted given the many hours you will spend scrutinizing star maps in 2D without particular effects. The polygonal models of the ships, on the other hand, are more than excellent, you can only view them during the mini screens of transition between travel and exploration, tedious and repeated moments until exhaustion. On the other hand, the inventiveness for the alien races and their vessels, present in great quantity and variety, is good. The music is also excellent, able to lull the player in the endless hours of exploring the galaxies. A final note is the complete lack of Spanish, if you want to try your hand at this space adventure, you will need to know at least one other alien language.
The Long Journey home is very difficult to decipher given its casual and punishing nature. The universes created in a procedural way can offer the most disparate experiences and that is why speaking unambiguously about how the title is is extremely complex. The mechanics, on the other hand, do not present anything particularly original but are at good levels, proving to be appreciable both by veterans of space exploration and for those who want to approach this genre for the first time. The choice to make the title yours will therefore have to focus solely on the desire you have to get involved, to explore and to bring your crew home, well aware that much of your success will depend solely on luck. In short, to each player, his universe.
- Virtually infinite procedural universes
- Simple mechanics
- If you are inclined to explore, hundreds of hours of gameplay await you
- Some systems are really impressive
- Sometimes overly punitive
- Transition scenes quickly become tedious
- We would have liked many more types of spaceships and landers