15/08/2017

☆ Review: Original Journey – “It’s a bit of this, and a bit of that” ☆ #GameDev

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Original Journey - PC


Genres can be a bit of grey area in video games. I think it’s safe to say that a game’s genre is generally the first point of call for most gamers looking to invest in a new title. While these genres are generally more clear-cut within the AAA gaming market, the rampant innovation and experimentation of the indie gaming market mean that often hybrids arise that aren’t easy to fit into a single genre category. It is this conundrum that I am faced now as I write this review for Bonfire Entertainment’s genre-morphing Original Journey.

If you had to put a gun to my head and tell me to compare Original Journey to another game I would probably have to say Bastion… or maybe a tower defence game… or maybe it’s Diablo… or maybe Shank… or maybe, ah s**t never mind, I’m dead.

The truth is it’s hard to say. While Original Journey’s Steam page classifies it as an action/adventure/RPG, I would argue that it also carries some elements of roguelikes, shoot-em-ups and platformers. I must admit that what first appeared to me to be a straightforward shooter game, soon opened into being a far deeper and more rewarding experience than I was expecting.

Original Journey follows the travels of the Ato, a race of sentient vegetables (yes you read right) that have taken to the stars in search of energy crystals which can be used to heal their planet’s dying core. Their search brings the Ato to Planet Shadow, a mysterious energy filled planet fraught with danger and all-manner of merciless flora and fauna. Playing as a nameless rookie Ato soldier, it’s up to you to don the mechanized war armour of the Ato and explore Planet Shadow in search of the planet’s mysterious power.



Mechanically, Original Journey plays as a 2D side-scroller presented through an intricate and beautiful hand-drawn aesthetic. Exploration of the planet is undertaken in randomly generated levels that see you hopping around and defeating waves of enemies in a mad rain of bullets. Killing enemies drops loot which can be used for quests, crafting and trading, and also give XP which increases your Ato’s stats of health, attack and luck. Kill all the enemies on a level and you’ll move onto the next, with each successive level being more difficult and rewarding than the last. If you die you’ll drop or your loot and return to base from where you’ll have to fight your way back to the level you died to retrieve your collected loot, die on the way there, and you’ll lose your loot completely.



Upon completing a level you may also choose to return to base at the Ato mothership which is where all of your item and quest management takes place. There is a wide arsenal of weapons on offer, each with their own particular power, ammo capacity and firing pattern. Your Ato can carry two weapons at a time, which means you can chop and change your weapons in a combination that best suits your strategy. Also on offer are a number of mech suits each with their own stats boosts to fit your playstyle. These suits can be further augmented with chips which can be placed into sockets to give your armour extra stat bonuses. Your little Ato also has the ability to place turrets and has a backup in the form of a drone, both of which must be utilised if you hope to survive.


Summary:
As much as I love Original Journey, the game is not without a few faults. For one, as much as I love the art style, the monochrome colouring quite often makes it incredibly difficult to distinguish what exactly is going on when the bullets start flying. This coupled with the fact that the game is generally quite difficult might frustrate many less-forgiving players.


However, despite these minor drawbacks I absolutely loved Original Journey. The game has a lot of heart and it’s clear that developer Bonfire Games put a lot of love into their quirky title. It’s a definite must play on my list of indie games and I very much hope it gets the recognition and success it deserves.


 
 

RATING: ICE COOL

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Bonfire Entertainment

Review By Alex Gaillard from Bitz n Bytz