Enjoying a Mini Space Epic in The Long Journey Home

Space science fiction games are hard to judge because of factors such as graphics, nostalgia and individual player preferences. I know this is a weird intro to a game review about a space sci-fi title, but stay with me. Daedalic sent me The Long Journey Home for the Switch and I dug into the game as soon as I could get my cats to stop unplugging the Switch charger. I love them to death, but cats and on time game reviews can become mutually exclusive at times.

I went through the tutorial for The Long Journey Home and got through the basics of the game and was already a little concerned about some parts, especially the lander segments. How bad was the lander handling, you ask? Well, curious reader, I have spent two days trying to figure out the best analogy and after a fun (painful?) night at my in-laws bonfire, I have found it.

Trying to control the lander in TLJH is about the same as pushing a wheelbarrow as fast as you can, while drunk, across the face of a hill with a roughly fifteen degree slope. It’s fun at first, but then it goes to hell in a handbasket and there is tumbling and screaming and someone calls you an idiot.

What was I saying? Right, the lander handling is garbage and still haunts my nightmares.

The larger portion of the game requires you to conserve fuel and maneuver through the gravitational orbit of multiple planets. This sounds incredible until you realize that means guiding a triangle on to a colored line. Not joking with you folks, literally you are spending part of your gameplay experience guiding shapes to lines. At least you can get your child’s geometry book cheaper than a strategy guide these days. There are also some planetary rings where you see a small version of your ship and have to navigate through debris and asteroids.

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Other activities include talking with strange aliens and trying to form an alliance with them, or at least convincing them not to kill you while you travel through their space. In that respect, The Long Journey Home is a lot like the classic Star Control or even Starflight. And while it might not quite rise to that level, this is one area where The Long Journey Home starts to shine.

Another interesting feature is the selection of the crew before you start the game. TLJH allows you to select your four person crew from eight options. This allows you to build your crew to have a varied skill set. You can also choose your ship and landing craft, well, there aren’t many options so it is a nice feature, but not one that can be a cornerstone. Maybe I have been spoiled from games like Mass Effect, but in the end, I felt a little let down. It is by no means a terrible game. I remember Energy Cycle was so bad I considered sending my resignation back with the review. I was actually tickled with most Daedalic adventures like Silence, but this one just does not come together in a way that makes me care very much about the characters. Instead, I feel like I was given a geometry-based word problem with a thin backstory.

My prevalent thought through my time playing TLJH is that I can’t tell if this is a rare misfire from a strong publisher, or the fault of the Switch, where I was reviewing this one, being a lackluster platform. Then again, checking out the game on Steam with a robust PC yielded the same issues. It’s just difficult to pull off an epic space adventure when there is so very little story and such a degrading of graphical fidelity and control in certain sequences that make up so much of the game. Those are all normally strong points of Daedalic titles. The lack of them here is surprising.

Of course, someone may like The Long Journey Home more than I did and I’m just a crotchety old man who needs his tapioca pudding. It’s not a bad game, but if you rank the entire catalog of titles produced by Daedalic over the years, then The Long Journey Home is going to be near the bottom of the list.

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