Posted by Marianne Miller on Dec 31, 2012

Review – The Journey Down: Chapter One (iOS)

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Product Information

MSRP: $2.99

Developer: Skygoblin

Publisher: Skygoblin

Platforms: iOS, PC

ESRB Rating: N/A

Genre: Puzzle/Point and Click

Imagine a world narrated by smooth jazz and reggae.  A dilapidated dock rests beside a warm but worn building with “Charter” squiggled hastily on the front.  It and a small restaurant are the only lights along one side of a river, drowned out by a massive, bustling city on the other.

This is the world of The Journey Down, released earlier this year for PC and recently re-released for the iOS.  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the code for the first chapter, the only one which is currently available.

The story follows Kito and Bwana, the owners of the aforementioned “Charter” gas station.  They inherited it from their adoptive father, Kaonandodo, who was a legendary pilot and adventurer.  A mysterious woman, Lina, appears at their shop one night in search for a book written about the illegal topic of “The Underland”.  As this is just the first chapter, not much detail is released in terms of The Underland, but it becomes quite clear that this woman is not the only one looking for this book.

The Journey Down is a classic point-and-click puzzle adventure, and adapts well to the iOS.  Dragging a finger along the screen of your iDevice shows any interactive objects in a given area, eliminating any possibility of missing those tiny, easy-to-miss clues or interactive objects.  It plays very cleanly and it’s clear that they put a good amount of work into swapping it over for iOS compatibility.

The game looks and sounds like nothing that has been released in recent years.  While many have compared it to Grim Fandango, the artstyle for Grim is very reminiscent of something out of the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos, whereas the characters in The Journey Down look as though they’ve stepped out of an African tribal painting.  The characters lack eyes and have distinct facial markings and are clothed in bright colors, a start contrast to much of the darkness that surrounds you in the first chapter.

The only real weakness of the game, in my opinion, is a small handful of the voice cast.  There are some inconsistencies in the sound quality for different characters, and I do feel as though some of the characters weren’t cast appropriately—a few of the characters that are older are voiced by people that are obviously in their early twenties.  However, the lead character Bwana (voiced by Anthony Sardinha) was a strong choice and carries the game well with his silly Jamaican accent.  In any case, the game feels like an homage to games from the early 90s, and the voice acting fits into that intent well, so I wouldn’t let that discourage anyone from buying it.

The Journey Down, Chapter One is a fun waste of an hour or so, with fun puzzles, unique visuals and a strong jazz/reggae soundtrack.  You can pick it up for $2.99 on iTunes for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

The Good

  • Unique visuals and character designs
  • A well-made homage to classic gameplay

The Bad

  • Voice acting can be a bit weak, but it almost fits into the game’s aesthetic.
  • It’s only the first chapter! I’m ready for more.
  • There’s… not a whole lot of bad, really.

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