Have You Played… The Longest Journey?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Oh, mock me if you will, but we wrote 224 of these Have You Playeds before I mentioned it. My favourite game of all time, The Longest Journey.

It’s the tale of April Ryan, and 18 year old who’s left home to study art in the city of Newport, 2209. Except, well, she keeps finding herself somewhere else, in the snowy fantasy world of Arcadia. And that’s confusing. So begins an epic tale of an attempt to restore Balance to the universe, as April explores her role in the worlds.

It’s know for featuring blue willies, lots of swearing, and so much sass, and that’s all well deserved. It’s also a really powerful story of faith, and the loss of faith, as well as magic, talking crows, and some bullshit puzzle about making a police officer sneeze out their glass eye. Far too long, far too much dialogue, and far too many bad puzzles, and yet it’s my favourite gaming experience of all time.

54 Comments

  1. Risingson says:

    I did not like it. Puzzles were fine in the beginning, but it started the trend of – a word I use a lot – overexposition. Long overexposition. It was very well written, but most of the things could have been told with 10% of them.

    • int says:

      I kind of agree. I like rich lore and worlds but there is no conciseness in the dialogue. Same deal with the sequels.

      Still a wonderful game though.

    • BooleanBob says:

      It’s the problem I have with all Tørnquist’s stuff. ~90% of his writing is good, the rest of it is clunky and sticks out like a sore thumb. Normally that would be a more than workable ratio, especially in a medium so deprived of good writers as gaming is. But when your games are so dense with the wordy stuff, the amount of dialogue that sets your teeth on edge ventures well into ‘this game will give you dentures’ territory.

    • trjp says:

      I’m so glad someone else said that. I picked-it-up a few months ago, played for a few hours and I was just – well – bored with it…

      I don’t like adventures with a single path solution but I don’t need one with a tonne of exposition, much of which isn’t helpful.

      One thing the game seems averse to doing is giving any sort of clues too – most decent adventures will throw clues into conversations (esp repeated ones) but there’s no sign of that here?

      It was also a bit of a bastard to get to run on W7 – had allsorts of moody fits and I ended-up with a hacked and windowed version in the end (which isn’t ideal?)

      Overall – I could not have bothered I think…

    • Sic says:

      It’s something that divides people, I think.

      Are you people big readers?

    • snowgim says:

      I’ve been playing it for the first time recently, well if from 6 months ago is recent. It’s taking a while because everytime I go to play it I think ‘would I rather play a game, or watch an hour of dialog?’
      I’m still liking it though, when I play it.

    • ansionnach says:

      I loved the game but you’re right about the writing.

  2. Cinek says:

    My story with this game:

    “Oh, that’s THIS game, looks so nice… gotta play it.” (1 minute later) “The Longest Journey? Damn… I don’t have time for that”.

  3. notenome says:

    I played it and I loved it. I actually replayed it recently and still loved it. Yes, the puzzles are shit (hello rubber ducky). But its wonderful.

    • Risingson says:

      I disagree: the rubber duck puzzle is fantastic. But I don’t know what happens with you people and the lateral thinking. Since someone mentioned that “real life” or “organic” puzzles are better, adventures are everything but challenging.

      Lately I am enjoying the Kingart games which are very well written, but I feel like I am taken as a stupid human being playing them being tapped in the back when I solve a puzzle. The feeling with the rubber duck was quite different.

  4. elderman says:

    I own this game (GOG version) and was looking forward to playing. Unfortunately, I’ve been forced to agree with the AppDB reports. It’s unplayable under Wine.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      Yeah, unfortunately. :(

      There’s also the start of a ResidualVM engine reimplementing The Longest Journey, so that it might be playable on other systems (GNU/Linux included) here: link to github.com

      Unfortunately, there really hasn’t been any work on it for several years now. If anybody feels up to the task of taking up development on it, please do so!

    • trjp says:

      It’s not THAT playable under Windows 7 tbh – it took allsorts of kicking and shouting at it to make it run and be remotely stable here…

  5. mukuste says:

    I… actually have a savegame of this, somewhere in the middle of the game, languishing on my laptop. I did really enjoy what I played so far and want to go back to it.

    And yes, some of the puzzles are really infuriating, but nowadays I don’t really feel bad about consulting a walkthrough when I get stuck for too long. Life’s too short.

    • Canadave says:

      It took me two attempts to get through TLJ, if that helps. The first time I think I got a bit burned out partway through the first full trip to Arcadia, but the second time I powered through right from the beginning to the end.

      Definitely consulted walkthroughs, though. Banging my head against convoluted logic just isn’t fun.

  6. onionman says:

    Several times. I think it should be “required reading” for any fan of the medium.

  7. Fenix says:

    I played Dreamfall first, and liked it so much that I knew I would eventually play TLJ.

    I finally did a couple of years ago, and it was a magnificent journey. The writing is just SOOOO good. No amount of dated graphics and bad puzzles could have made me not love this game.

    Genuinely thing April Ryan is one of the strongest protagonist in all of gaming.

    • Fenix says:

      *think not thing [noeditbutton]

    • brucethemoose says:

      Should I start with TLJ or Dreamfall if I haven’t played either?

      • Fenix says:

        If you plan on playing both, definitely TLJ.

        Although, I believe it’s entirely possible to never play TLJ and enjoy Dreamfall a lot.

      • Kaffka says:

        If you want to get the full story, definitely TLJ first. One thing to note though is that TLJ (unlike Dreamfall) does suffer from a rather slow start. So if you play TLJ for a while and the ‘flow’ doesn’t really kick in DEFINITELY switch to Dreamfall (which is better at getting you in the hook), afterwards you won’t be able to stop playing TLJ. ;)

        I started with Dreamfall and played TLJ aftwards, which is also kind of cool, because a lot of Dreamfalls mysteries suddenly go *click* and you get a lot of ‘AHA!’/’OMG!’ moments playing TLJ this way. ;)

        That beeing said, I enjoyed it so much I replayed Dreamfall after finishing TLJ, something I have to this day only done with a very few games, the Half-Life series beeing one.

    • Kaffka says:

      Same for me, play Dreamfall first. I think because I saw it on some recommendation-list.
      I really dug the story, world and character, which made playing TLJ afterwards a no-brainer and boy does TLJ hiz home! :)

      I think TLJ and Dreamfall are one of the very few games I played through more then once, so much interconnected stories and mystery!
      I think what Ragnar is really good at is building a rich world, but leave enough for your own imagination, just like reading a good book.

  8. somnolentsurfer says:

    Yes, and it’s wonderful. Everyone should play it. I should replay it. But it’s really, really long. And it comes from right in the middle of that early 3D period of about 1997-2002 that I just find really hard to go back to now.

  9. DiGi says:

    I love that park with iron bridge. And April of course.

  10. Det. Bullock says:

    Yes I did, twice.
    Once at the time when i had a lowly Pentium II, and a few months ago after buying it from GOG.com, it still holds up.
    A pity for the 3D models, 2D sprites would have aged much better visually.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I replayed it recently, and I agree: That glass-eye puzzle is bullshit.

  12. lowprices says:

    Yes, frequently. I adore it.

    (Part of me was hoping this was another member of Team RPS, and that they were going to write “Don’t bother, it’s awful” just to troll John.)

  13. aoanla says:

    Tried playing it twice, and it just took so long to actually get things to happen that I eventually stopped both times. (This is the “deep world and character building does not mean you can’t be concise” problem noted above.)

  14. Geebs says:

    The one-two punch of the goddamn duck puzzle and the exposition dump immediately following killed this one stone dead for me. Having suffered through the terrible sequel removed any hope that things would improve.

    It’s no Myst, I’ll grant you that.

  15. Phinor says:

    I’ve bought it three times. Started it maybe a dozen times. Furthest I’ve gotten into it is like 20 minutes. It’s still very high on my list of games to play. Year after year…

  16. TomxJ says:

    I love this game. In fact Last week I found the special edition version with artbook in a charity shop for a quid! Plan on replaying the and dreamfall before Chapters.

  17. Xenodon says:

    Playing this game was a lot like reading an enormous book that wouldn’t proceed with its action until I got clever enough, turning every solution into a glorious victory. It was something that was waiting for me when I got home at the end of the day, something for me to chip away at bit by bit over the course of a year. If I got stuck on a puzzle I’d be turning it over in my head over the following few days until, struck by an inspiring moment of “Maybe if I…” I’d jump back in and sort it out. And on the way there were all these unexpected, delightful moments of wit, a sense of ever-unfolding adventure, a mystery whose solution was always tantalisingly close.

    I don’t know if it can be sustained beyond its first playthrough, though. I’ve tried, but it doesn’t quite have the same magic now — either because nothing holds the same wonder as it does the first time, or because since then we’ve had so many wonderful games that deliver excellent narratives demanding as much time and diligence.

    • Xenodon says:

      *without demanding as much time and diligence, that should read.

  18. Marclev says:

    TLJ in my view represents the adventure game at the height of the genre’s history. It has got the be the most epic adventure game ever, the scope, the variety of locations, and the ambition of the story are unbelievable.

  19. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Played this and the sequel. It’s a good entry of the genre though not one of my favourite games.
    Puzzles are often crap, many red herrings and too much juvenile/twen soap dialogue in the first part which I know certain gamers do like. Overall plot and ending was good.
    I can see exactly why it got all the critical praise back then but it’s not my cup of coffee in the end.

  20. Vandelay says:

    Gorgeous game, bar the character models, and beautifully written. It is the classic coming of age tale, but so wonderfully done compared to anything else in this medium and it holds its own compared to other mediums.

    Dreamfall has its highlights and I’m enjoying Dreamfall Chapters, but they really do not compare to the classic point and click adventure. I hope that the unreached stretch goal of Dreamfall Chapters, the greenlighting of The Longest Journey 2, is still a possibility.

  21. Horg says:

    Point and click adventure games create an ideal world in which we can solve all our day to day problems by combining found or stolen items in a pseudo-logical manner to make improvised tools. After playing something like TLJ, it’s hard to go back to the mundane nature of reality where you have to call the council if you drop your car keys down a sewer grate.

  22. Procrastination Giant says:

    Yeah, It’s still one of my favorite Adventures out there, despite the fact that it’s actually a really rather terrible adventure and that actually playing it isn’t much fun at all. (which didn’t stop me from finishing it three times) Not to mention that the huge buffy-influence is a bit on the painfully obvious side of things at times, but that’s not necessarily entirely a bad thing.

    Still hoping that Dreamfall: Chapters turns out to be good in the end, but based on feedback for the first three episodes so far i’m a bit sceptical if they can pull it off… Won’t touch it until all episodes are out, though.

  23. tomimt says:

    The Longest Journey is propably the longest pure point and click game ever made. Despite I know it by heart, after installing it on Steam and checking out the full time I clocked 18 hours on it. If you’d add a combat system on it and character stats you’d get 100 hour RPG.

    Also, it is one of my all time favourites. It has its flaws, but man, did it have an impact on me.

  24. Sardonic says:

    I liked it, mainly because of the setting and the writing, although I had to do almost the entire thing by walkthrough. It would have benefited from some of the virtues of modern adventure game design, like tossing out inventory items no longer needed every once in a while, or limiting movement to certain zones where you need to make progress. Even still, it was quite a game.

    • Scurra says:

      Yeah, but some of us think those are drawbacks rather than virtues – I like having a bunch of things in my inventory with no idea when or where I am going to use them. Likewise, it’s funny how modern “open-world” games then end up having to cover their map with icons telling people where to go, because they can’t be bothered to spend the time looking for themselves. (OK, “can’t be bothered” isn’t entirely fair. But it does feel like that sometimes.)
      Of course that doesn’t excuse badly designed games in which previously “blank” objects or places suddenly become active when you pick something up; that does reduce the exercise to the tedium of revisiting everywhere in the hope of finding something new – decent games tend to hint at “locks” as you go along.

  25. Snate686 says:

    I’ve played The Longest Journey at least three times and it is still my favorite game of all time.

  26. fuggles says:

    This was amazing, the subsequent plot in dreamfall and chapters is threatening to be a huge disappointment for me, sadly.

  27. Jay Load says:

    Don’t bother. It’s awful.

    • Monggerel says:

      Amen to that!
      I like Ragnar Tørnquist (lead designer&writer) though, he gives pretty good talks.

    • Premium User Badge

      Serrit says:

      Hehe yeah came down here to check that at least someone decided to make a ref back to the Myst HYP :-)

  28. Premium User Badge

    zigguratvertigo says:

    Yes, and entirely because of John including it at such a high point in his Bestest Adventure Games article here a while ago. I’m still playing it in fact, and enjoying it very much.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    Just replayed it recently to refresh my memory in anticipation of imminent Dreamfall Chapters playthrough. As with most adventures there is some occasional moon logic, but I still really like it. I think my favourite puzzle is the one where you learn the local magical language by choosing to shut up and listen. Wonderful atmospheric game.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Drakesden says:

    I played this years ago, and again very recently with my girlfriend. It is a strange recipe: I think all the world-building exposition (that we mostly sped-read and clicked through) was important to set the epic scale of the game, especially since so many of the kingdoms of Arcadia were often just a few screens and a couple of characters. Fortunately, April’s dialog just cuts through all the fat and voices what we’re thinking: where are you going with this? Who cares? I gotta do what now to save all the worlds? Her character is the game, more or less.

    Looking forward to replaying Dreamfall with all that background, and eventually getting to Chapters by the time they’ve fixed all the wonkiness with their port to the new version of Unity.

  31. yochaigal says:

    I was in my teens when this came out – maybe 17 or so. I loved it so much that I emailed Ragnar Tornquist telling him so – not expecting him to write back. He did, and I’ll always remember that.

    I too now wish it would run in WINE, but my Windows VM plays it OK. The games that came later were linux native, though!

  32. Grant says:

    Game is so good!!

  33. sharkh20 says:

    My third favorite game of all time after the first two Monkey Island games.