The Journey Down: Chapter One (Review)
We received a review code for The Journey Down: Chapter One on the Switch.
This point-and-click adventure game game draws on Afro-Caribbean inspiration, most noticeably in its character designs, which are based on African masks. While the main character’s mask-like face occasionally makes him look stiff, I got used to it pretty quickly, although some areas do have a jarring difference between the 3D character models and 2D backgrounds. The soundtrack also deserves a mention, as the catchy music helps set the scene.
The Journey Down: Chapter One begins with a hint of a conspiracy, as a sinister organization hunts for an important book, but then shifts to focus on a run-down gas station where Bwana and Kito are trying to figure out how to pay a huge debt to the power company. When a woman shows up in search of a book their adoptive father left behind and asks to charter their plane, Bwana seizes the opportunity and sets out to find the parts they need to get the plane airborne.
Now, the plane hasn’t been flown in decades, so this proves to be quite a quest. Gameplay-wise, The Journey Down uses a basic point-and-click interface to let you interact with other characters, examine items, and drag gathered items from your inventory to use in puzzles. The puzzles are pretty logical, although a few took me a while to figure out. As is typical for this sort of game, they mostly involve figuring out how to obtain the items you need and get into new areas, whether you’re dealing with a bird guarding a mechanical part or convincing a sailor you’re part of the crew. There are a few other types of puzzles, as well, and the game lampshades their absurdity.
Humor is one of The Journey Down’s greatest strengths. Bwana frequently comments on the ridiculous situation (and his own dislike of puzzles), and the game was filled with silly moments that made me laugh. Unfortunately, it’s harder to judge the actual story. Like the full title indicates, this is only Chapter One. Lasting around two hours, The Journey Down: Chapter One mainly focuses on fixing the plane. On one hand, this lets it focus on self-contained puzzles in a small setting, but it also means there are only hints of the larger story.
Still, those hints are intriguing. Even though the immediate story is mundane, it gives glimpses of exciting things to come. There’s enough worldbuilding in Chapter One to make me interested in where Bwana and Kito’s story will go from here. As long as you know it’s only the intro to a longer story, The Journey Down: Chapter One is a decent choice for fans of humorous point-and-click adventure games.