In seeing that FunCom put out a new official site for The Longest Journey, my brain started ticking.
Then it wheezed to a halt and coughed a bit.
I pulled on the starter. Nothing. Primed the pump (mm taco!) and tried again. VROOM! We’re back in action!
Anyway, my brain says to me, it says, “Hey Syp!” (yes, my brain addresses me using my pseudonym) “Hey Syp, why don’t you start a new and mostly unnecessary article series on some of your old favorite video games? That should appease those internet monkeys for another hour!”
I had to agree. The monkeys need to be fed.
So let’s start with The Longest Journey. Let me ask you this: what are some of your most beloved books? For me, they’re usually epics, huge stories of adventure and fantasy and imagination. In the oft-pronounced “dead” genre of adventure, storytelling had the potential to be just as poignant and moving and epic in a video game as it does in books. Adventure games (which are now making a comeback on — of all places — the Apple app store) made you work to solve puzzles and navigate dialogue trees in order to advance the story, and in so doing, immerse you in the events, making you an insider instead of a mere observer.
I’ve never felt such a strong connection with the story of a game as I did when I first played through The Longest Journey (TLJ) in 2000. When I finished, I tried to tell as many of my friends as possible to try it, and was rewarded when my best bud in Japan fell in love with it in just the same way. It’s a game that’s also an experience and a slowly-spun tale.
TLJ begins in the dream of one April Ryan (voiced by Sarah Hamilton), an aimless art student who gradually discovers that she has a latent ability: to move between worlds. In this case, it’s between her world — the futuristic technological world of Stark and the olde tyme fantasy world of Arcadia. It turns out that there’s a lot of really bad mojo happening in both worlds, but from a singular threat, and she’s eventually tasked with helping to combat it.
As you progress through the game, you go through “chapters” (each with their own heading) as you would in a book. Each chapter advances the story, and in many cases, alters the game world as time progresses. April’s funny inner narration and outwardly awkward/frustrated dialogue develop this character into someone you genuinely care about. She comes across an entire cast of memorable characters, such as a talking bird called Crow, a fellow world-shifter, a dragon in human form, and an evil Alchemist, all of whom are loaded with dialogue and secrets.
I replayed The Longest Journey a year or so ago, and apart from the puzzles being easier (they’re devilish the first time if you don’t have a walkthrough), the story still hit me in the same way. I eagerly downed the sequel, Dreamfall, which — while good — wasn’t quite up to TLJ’s perfection, and ended on a cliffhanger that as of yet is not resolved.
This might not be the game for you if you hate “wordiness” or, y’know, “stories” — it seems as though there’s a sizable portion of gamers who are annoyed at dealing with chunks of text and dialogue, preferring instead to blow crap up. But if you want to experience one of the finest moments of adventure game history — TLJ is still around and still highly playable.
- My relationship with Crow
- April’s inner monologue and observations
- The rich “story” feel to it all
- Occasional raw and harsh revelations and actions
- The 2D art backgrounds