The Journey Down: Over The Edge

By John Walker on November 16th, 2010 at 6:30 pm.

What a lovely bunch.

Released a few months ago, but only just catching my eye (thanks to creator Theo Waern alerting us to it), The Journey Down is one of the most remarkable-looking AGS indie adventures I’ve seen. Taking five years to put together, it’s obviously a true labour of love, this opening chapter telling the tale of gas station owner Bwana and his attempt to rebuild his aeroplane so he can get out of crippling debts. An evil power company is demanding huge payments, while making it illegal for anyone to explore a region of this world known as The Edge. To get there, a bunch of inventory items are going to be needed, that’s for sure.

It’s a very traditional point and click adventure, apart from the lack of variety in control – there’s a one-cursor-for-all, which is always a bit of a shame. Well written, it cleverly crafts an alternate world without making any fuss, or shouty noise. I really appreciate it for that. And more importantly, the vast majority of the puzzles are well put together, and while as daft as anything that came out in the 90s, at least mostly relatively pseudo-logical. The only issue here is the lack of distinction between interactive objects and the backgrounds, meaning you’re often resorting to sweeping the screen for anything that offers a name.

But that’s partly because it’s all so gosh-darn beautifully painted. Looking as splendid as anything LucasArts or Sierra were producing 15 years ago, a remarkable talent for painting pixels is on display. There’s even CGI of the era during the end sequence, all running through Chris Jones’s Adventure Game Studio. It’s a real work of art.

My only real issue with the game is the occasional stereotyping. The main cast are physically based on African masks (and their character design is excellent), but the (written) speech appears to be Jamaican, indicated by the ludicrous over-inclusion of the word “mon”, along with reggae music throughout. God knows there aren’t enough games that acknowledge non-European/North American characters (although I guess Jamaica is N. America), but the muddle here does feel a bit like plucking the sorts of stereotypes that might have appeared in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Slightly worse is an apparently Japanese chef, who interchanges all his Ls and Rs. I dunno, it’s not egregious or offensive, but it doesn’t sit as comfortably as it might.

However, all the characters are extremely likeable, and the plot – while only being introduced here – is intriguing, both for the apparent content, and the world in which it’s all set. It’s completely free, and you can get it here. It’s definitely worth a look. The second chapter is due to appear in the middle of next year. You can watch the first fifteen minutes of the game below:

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21 Comments »

  1. noom says:

    Not one but two mighty interesting-looking point n’ click games in the space of two days. I feel spoilt.

    As an aside, I have to say I love the fact that point n’ click has never been reduced to a Three Letter Acronym. PnC would sound awful.

  2. doublefeet says:

    Adventure Game… Simulator?
    Surely you mean Studio.

  3. jackflash says:

    TRADEMARK INFRING- oh wait, Tim Langdell lost that one, didn’t he!

  4. nabeel says:

    A beautiful game, I really recommend it to anyone with a spare few minutes. It doesn’t skimp on the music or sound effects either, there has been a lot of work put into this.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I downloaded this a while back but still haven’t got round to playing the thing. Must get round to it.

  6. Igor Hardy says:

    This is a remarkably crafted adventure game, a freeware looking like a lost LucasArts classic, and it will probably sweep the Adventure Game Studio awards this year.

    Too bad it’s only the 1st chapter out of 3 and the next one isn’t coming that quickly.

  7. Navagon says:

    Looks like one hell of a freebie. Downloading!

  8. Eddy9000 says:

    ” An evil power company is demanding huge payments, while making it illegal for anyone to explore a region of this world known as The Edge.”

    Hmmm, an evil company trying to stop people from using the “Edge” by demanding huge payments?

    Where have I heard this before…?

  9. goatmonkey says:

    Its always strange when my name appears in game credits, looks lovely too

  10. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    I was sure I heard about this here, on release a few months ago. But I am clearly wrong. I certainly played it then… Great freebie, can’t wait for more.

  11. Premium User Badge

    thesundaybest says:

    Hey Mon, tain’t nuting racist bout flied lice.

    Er…

  12. Nathan says:

    one-cursor-for-everything is a godsend if you’re disabled and switching between right and left clicking takes time.

  13. Matt says:

    Why is the main character dressed in a prison jumpsuit?

  14. Hoernchen says:

    And I thought he was talking about the british pound when I read the title..

  15. Cosmo Dium says:

    I’m trying to play the game, but it’s only showing up very very very small in the center of my screen. The resolution is locked at 320 x 240 and I can’t do anything to stretch out the reso. I try running it in a window and it’s even smaller. Any tips?

  16. Tams80 says:

    I’ve only played a very little, but the artwork and music are exquisite and the story so far is very interesting. Shouldn’t have watched the trailer though, it had some spoilers =( (obviously).

    I’m definitely buying it when this HD remake comes out. Just need Alien Dalvik to get going so I can waste my mobile’s battery on it (I’d buy the PC version as well of course).