The Journey Down [official site] has proven to be one of the few modern/traditional point-and-click adventures that has remembered the genre’s potency and not sacrificed in the name of simplicity. An enormous gap of four years between the first two chapters (albeit with a remake of chapter one at the halfway point) perhaps underlined some of the issues with episodic gaming, but that second chapter was a near-full-length game in its own right. The third and final chapter 3 is aiming to keep the gap to two years, but it needs a bit of Kickstarter help to get there. Which is going rather well already.
The Journey Down is a tale of commercial pilot and sentient sub-Saharan African mask Bwana, and a strange conspiratorial world of oppressive police, a strange book, and a mysterious place called The Underland. The first chapter, quite brief and very traditional, set up a bunch of these questions. And then rather splendidly, the hugely improved chapter two did not make the mistake of so many middle chapters and just stretch and fill before the forthcoming conclusion, but instead answered many questions and asked lots more. Most importantly, it managed something that has all but died out in adventure gaming – a constant sense that you’re progressing, each solved puzzle advancing you forward, rather than leaving you stranded. In short: it was good. So there’s good reason to have hopes for the final chapter.
However, to make it, they need some extra cash. I asked why (a question that always comes to mind when I see a project asking for money for later chapters), and lead developer Theodor Waern told me that after a year of working on the game’s design, and a desire to see the series “go out with a high quality big bang”, it’s costing them a bunch to make. That, combined with a struggle to get enough attention for chapter two, meant according to the dev it “drowned immediately”, despite “amazing reviews”.
It’s interesting to note that Kickstarting a game can often be as much about garnering an audience and attention as much as bringing in the funds. And just a couple of days in, they’ve seen themselves get well past the halfway point of the kr300,000 they’re after. (That threateningly large number translates to the somewhat more modest £23,630 or $36k.) It’d be a shame, I reckon, not to see this one concluded.