When it comes to point and click adventure games, very few are as bold or original as The Longest Journey. Developed by Norwegian studio, Funcom, the game debuted at the turn of the millenium on PC. Now, more than decade after its maiden voyage, The Longest Journey has finally anchored on mobile and tablet devices.
In order to avoid confusion: no, this isn’t the same game as last year’s Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey. Nor is it a port of the 2006 Xbox and Windows title, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Despite the bizarre naming convention, both of these are actually sequels to this game and expand on its robust universe and characters.
Set in the year 2291, The Longest Journey casts players as futuristic hipster, April Ryan, an eighteen year old academy art student. Just like any late teen in further education, she’s partial to hitting up bars, gossiping with housemates, and letting her mind wander whenever she catches a break from the everyday grind. Something isn’t quite right, however; with a crucial exhibition drawing ever nearer, April starts to have strange dreams which continue to haunt her, even when she’s awake.
Eager to get to the bottom of these hallucinations, she leads players around the heavily industrialised Newport in search of answers. What April discovers is far beyond her wildest dreams when she finds herself teleported to a second, alternate dimension. Here, magic resides in the absence of science; a fantastic mythical world that plays host to a bestiary of strange creatures and inhabitants.
It’s not quite the paradise it first appears to be, however. A shady organisation known as the Vanguard is looking to wreak havoc across both the magical world of Arcadia and its twin, Stark, with April caught smack bang in the middle. Blessed with the power to shift between dimensions, it’s up to her to stop Vanguard before they can enact their sinister plot.
Unashamedly bizarre, The Longest Journey sets out one of the most original stories presented in video game format. The whole “alternate dimension” thing has been done to death, sure, but Funcom really hit the nail on the head with its cocktail of wondrous vistas and well-delivered dialogue throughout, with a full cast of voice actors, which wasn’t entirely standard for the time.
In terms of visuals, Funcom has done its best with the original assets, sprucing up environment backgrounds for mobiles and tablets. It would have been nice, however, to see April’s character – among others – receive a makeover. Though far from terrible, they lack detail and sometimes clash with their surroundings.
Another aspect that will feel slightly outdated to same is how the game plays out. Few, if any, revisions have been made to the core template which is both good and bad. Returning players will be delighted to see everything brought to life once more in high definition, but others might get hung up on on the game’s sometimes illogical and random approach to puzzle-solving, in comparison with more modern point & click adventure conventions. During the first hour or so, The Longest Journey immediately erects a handful of roadblocks that only a walkthrough can overcome. This, combined with the game’s often awkward touchscreen controls can prove abrasive. With that said, however, those who persevere will finds themselves richly rewarded.
Overall, this is solid version of the original game, albeit one that meets only the minimum requirements to branded as a “remaster”. With a bit more time, Funcom could have reworked The Longest Journey into a more accessible mobile hit. Then again, the recent launch of the crowdfunded Dreamfall Chapters is pretty much that and then some.