The Journey Down: Chapter One Review

The Journey Down: Over the Edge, 2010’s surprise freeware hit from SkyGoblin’s Theodor Waern returns in all-new commercial form! The ex-Adventure Game Studio title now flaunts its own in-house engine, new puzzles and locations, higher-resolution art and all-new 3D-animated characters and voice acting! In addition to being released on the PC and Mac at GamersGate, Linux, Android and iOS ports are also to arrive shortly.

The new The Journey Down: Chapter One, then, is the first part of an episodic adventure series in the Monkey IslandFull ThrottleGrim Fandango mode – as good a trinity of influences as any! The game tells the story of Bwana and Kito, two adopted brothers, who have been left in charge of captain Kaonandodo’s “Gas and Charter” enterprise ever since his sudden disappearance. The brothers are however left hanging high and dry after the mysterious Armando Power Company initiates a dastardly money grab – just as a damsel in distress appears knocking on the brothers’ proverbial door!

The original indie release was a critical hit. “Over the Edge” was one of the – if not the – best medium-length indie adventures of 2010. I personally thought as much. Two years after the fact, however, reviewing the all-new remake, seems oddly unfair as well as difficult: What was the feature, exactly, that made the original so very enjoyable, and more importantly, how to once again accurately convey it?

Was it the game’s wistful nostalgia combined with surprisingly effective comedic relief, or the “Fandango”-like injection of the African Chokwe/Makonde masks that so successfully gave the game its unique touch? Or the stirringly sharp hand-painted 2D backgrounds? Or the expert pacing and flow? The carefully-crafted, balanced puzzle-solving? The jokes?

Looking back, in my original review, I did claim The Journey Down’s primary feature to be its visual direction. This fact should be altogether apparent just from screenshots alone, however, which makes me want to revise my previous statement, instead focusing on the one thing every prospective Journeyman and -woman should know: (more…)

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The Journey Down Interview with Theodor Waern

In this interview with main Skygoblin Theodor Waern, who is fresh off releasing the very first chapter of his four-part adventure game series, The Journey Down, we discuss the game’s unique look and feel, Waern’s inspiration for the game and find out more about the role Adventure Game Studio played in the game’s development. We also got around talking about the importance of polish, what makes a puzzle a good puzzle, and Waern’s workflow.

In addition to this interview, we have also simultaneously published our review of the first chapter of the game here at The Slowdown. “Over the Edge” can be downloaded from Skygoblin right now.

The Slowdown: Starting off, I would like you to return to the origins of the series for a minute: In the manual provided with “Over the Edge,” you reveal how the game’s origins actually lie in brainstorming sessions with your colleague, Mathias Johansson. How big a catalyst, though, was simply finding the correct tool to work with?

Theodor Waern: There’s no point denying that when me and AGS first laid eyes on each other, we both knew it was love. I realized right from the start that this was THE tool for me. The learning curve was perfect. I had a problem, I banged my head at it, I solved it. I had another problem, I banged my head some more, and I solved that one too. It has been that way ever since I started production on the game and I doubt I will ever come to a complete stop.


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The Journey Down – Chapter 1: Over the Edge Review

Under the moniker of Skygoblin, Theodor Waern, with music provided by Simon D’souza, has written, painted and animated a standout freeware indie adventure that is perhaps most easily described as an amalgamation of three LucasArts classics from the past: Monkey Island, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango. Even if the game does recall the meta-level humour and carnivalesque of the first, the animations and the magnificent meld of 2D/3D of the second, and the stylish ambiance and setting of the third, all in all, Waern’s series – The Journey Down – is no simple exercise in nostalgia.

At this juncture, I would love to point you all to our interview with the game’s designer, Theodor Waern, published in conjunction with this review. In the interview, we discuss the game’s unique look and feel, Waern’s inspiration for the game and find out more about the game’s history and development.

The first chapter, “Over the Edge,” finally released after being four years in the making, tells the story of Bwana and Kito, brothers abandoned by their adoptive father captain Kaonandodo, whose abrupt disappearance left the brothers struggling to make a living. Apart for some slight “financial instability,” the duo has been running Kaonandodo’s Gas and Charter ever since, that is, until the Armando Power Company throws a proverbial wrench in their gears.


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