As the Reticule’s self-appointed Ambassador for Pointing and Clicking, I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to draw your attention to up and coming releases in the adventuring genre. This time it’s independent developer SkyGoblin’s turn in the spotlight, as I poke The Journey Down with my ambassadorial poking device.
Billed as the first installment as an episodic series, The Journey Down follows the bumbling adventures of Kito and Bwana, a pair of charter pilots with no money and a broken-down plane, as they finally get a chance to put some money in their pocket. After they are both shocked to find an actual customer turn up on their doorstep, they soon find that getting their plane back in the air is just the start of their problems.
Originally developed as a freeware game using the same AGS development tool that birthed Gemini Rue, Skygoblin have gone back to the drawing board with The Journey Down, creating their own ‘Gobby’ game-engine to allow for flexibility and multi-platform support, before adding voice acting and additional puzzles to fully improved high resolution graphics.
True to the spirit of old-school adventuring, you can expect to spend your time collecting a vast pile of seemingly unconnected objects and mashing them against one another in unexpected ways. If you’re not a fan of the old Lucasarts’ formula, you’ll be just as frustrated by The Journey Down, but a combination of ‘relatively’ sensible puzzles and some entertaining writing kept me playing even after getting stuck. In a recent interview at the the Gnome’s Lair, Theo stated “I pretty much succeeded in weeding out [unintuitive interactions and illogical solutions] and instead focused on those core things that truly make the genre fun.”
Citing Grim Fandango, LeChuck’s Revenge, Full Throttle and Gabriel Knight as inspirations, Theo and the Skygoblin team are certainly setting their ambitions high. Graphically, the artistic stylings of Grim Fandango have clearly had a huge impact on design choices, with the voodoo-masked faces of the characters providing an eerie setting for a comical tale. Furthermore, the light-hearted tone of events is complemented by some excellent voice acting by Anthony Sardinha.
Although the promise of an ‘episodic’ series fills me with apprehension, I do hope Skygoblin are able to maintain the quality and humour of this first installment through the rest of the series, and they don’t succumb to the failures that seemingly haunt the episodic model.
The Journey Down is scheduled for release in Spring 2012 across PC, Mac and IOS platforms. You can follow its development over at the Skygoblin site.