The Long Journey Home (Switch) Review
Release Date: September 4, 2019
Publisher/Developer: Daedalic Entertainment GmbH
Platform: Switch (reviewed), Steam
Most outer space video games don’t thrive in the mundane. Yet this procedurally generated adventure, whilst starting on grandiose terms and dealing with the arduous task of finding your way home after being slingshotted across the galaxy, will find you scraping by for resources, scanning planets, and generally trying to survive on your way back to Earth via assigning tasks, managing menus, and overall planning every nuance of your journey.
In The Long Journey Home, gamers will choose four crew members out of a slate of ten options. Each one has their own expertise and unique items to bring along that will change the dynamics of the adventure. After a basic tutorial as the crew plans to test out their new warp engine results in success beyond their wildest dreams as they are thrown across the galaxy, but are unable to return the same way. The ragtag crew of four members set to work collecting resources, interacting with alien races, warping between systems, and slowly but surely pressing on toward home.
The core of gameplay during my journeys would revolve around resource management. Keeping your crew alive, maintaining fuel, and repairing the ship require resources that must be located on your journey. A lot of this involves going through with landing missions. I find the lander module amazingly cumbersome. I frequently found myself upside down and having a very hard time getting flipped back over. Your lander takes one crewmember to operate, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of safety options. Crashes make you feel like the lander is made of tinfoil with spikes on the inside, as my crew often came back in worse condition than they left in, making me question the worth of the mission. I even found my ship taking damage while drilling because I wasn’t situated right at times. Hopefully, you end up with a net gain on resources after returning to the main craft and repairing your damages, giving you enough to head further down the road.
Whilst you traverse the cosmos you also run across aliens. Some are friendly, some are not. Some just want to sell you stuff. Some may want to trade stuff for one of your crew members. If the need arises there is combat, though it’s done on the same map as your general navigation, so it can feel clumsy as such. I know this is an indie game and it would require a major revamp for anything hugely different, but I feel as if all the game modes would benefit from a third dimension. Navigating through debris to a space station to have a cutscene show that there’s a perfect disc of space junk around the station that I could avoid if I’d have just navigated a few feet higher in the third dimension.
With the randomized nature of the game, there’s plenty of room for replay and trying new combinations of crewmates. In general, though, the game will always keep you on the bleak end of emotion as you watch your fuel reserves dwindle and your ship stay together with spit and baling wire. The game focuses around the landing minigame, the general navigation, and lots and lots of menus. The Long Journey Home does a great job of showing the bleakness and mundane routine that would happen in such an adventure that we don’t usually see on the big screen. I wish that navigation was a little more forgiving in landing, as this mandatory and repetitive part of the game gets frustrating after repeatedly returning to the ship in worse condition than I left in. People who love to master games will absolutely love learning every nuance of The Long Journey Home, but casual gamers who could get overwhelmed easily may be better off hitching a ride back else-wise.
-Does a great job of showing a different side of space travel and adventure
-Procedural generation + variety of crewmembers = deep replay value for those who enjoy it
-Great fun in meeting new species and trying to determine the best way to be diplomatic
-Loose controls when navigating, particularly in landing missions
-Fragile equipment and crewmembers
-Resource management on a meager budget isn’t for everyone
Special thanks to Daedalic Entertainment GmbH for providing a code for review!