Monday, 3 December 2018

Game Review: Old Man’s Journey


Game Review: Old Man’s Journey

Review by Casey Douglass


Old Man’s Journey


Memories are strange things. Some are slippery and vanish almost instantly, others are sticky and can be evoked by the smallest trigger or impulse. Broken Rules’ puzzle adventure game Old Man’s Journey uses the latter kind to tell the player a story in pictures, not words. It begins with the titular Old Man receiving a letter, packing a rucksack, and hitting the road. And what a beautiful road it is!

Old Man’s Journey
Old Man’s Journey has a gorgeous art-style, vibrant colours and crisp animations lending the world the feeling of life going on. Your mouse pointer interacts with a variety of these elements, just by being near them. You can cause birds to take flight to another perch, rustle trees and make an old windmill turn, to mention just a few things. This is without even clicking the left mouse button. With the button, you can open windows and doors, drag some things, activate others, and poke holes in waterfalls. More importantly, you can click to place a little signpost, something the old man walks towards, paths allowing.

Old Man’s Journey
Yellow outlines highlight the paths when you drag the hills
This leads us to the most common puzzle in the game: growing and shrinking the hills with the left mouse button held to create pathways. The one rule is that you can’t drag the hill that the man is currently standing on, so these puzzles become a “walk there, drag that, move back” kind of affair. As the game progresses, there are other obstacles that must be shepherded out of the way, and even walls that need to be breached. The Steam Store page describes the game as having pressure-free puzzles, and they certainly fall into this category. They aren’t too difficult, and you aren’t at risk of dying or failing anything, you are just delaying his journey.

Old Man’s Journey
Everyone needs a thinking bench with a view
At intervals, the old man finds a bench to sit on, and this is the player’s cue to click on the thing in the environment around him that will trigger a memory. This could be making a bell ring, clicking on people, or any number of things. Once clicked, the man strokes his beard and looks thoughtful, before a scene appears showing something from his life. These memories do a good job of filling us in on where he might be going, but ambiguities, such as a happy scene in which someone looked to be frowning for no reason, added a little more depth. Or I’m just naturally suspicious.

Old Man’s Journey
Old Man’s Journey takes about ninety minutes to complete, and in that time, you will reach his destination and see what is waiting for him there. While it is described as an emotive game, I only really felt stronger emotion at one particular memory, and that was about half way through the game. Judging by the reviews people have left on Steam, others have experienced more, but each to their own. I found Old Man’s Journey to be a charming game, one that was a pleasure to play, and a well put together piece of thoughtful entertainment. I would have liked to have been more moved by it, but I will take what I received gladly.

I reviewed the PC version, but Old Man’s Journey is also available on other platforms, including PS4 and App Stores.

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