Minimalist, narrative-driven space exploration game Voyageur has one of those wonderful sci-fi concepts that so seldom get made into games; What if faster-than-light travel were possible, but only in one direction? Thanks to the discovery of an alien technology known as the Descent Device, people can now explore the universe within a single lifetime, but it’s always going to be a one-way trip towards the galactic core. Previously released on iOS & Android some months ago, today marks its launch on PC.
Voyageur was originally designed to fit its entire existence comfortably onto smartphone screen – short vignette adventures, multiple choice story branching and simple merchant interfaces. The PC version has expanded in an interesting way – rather than expand the actual gameplay space by much, developer Bruno Dias has opted to expand the background map to fill the unused space. Intended or otherwise, it provides an oddly expanded sense of scale, and conveys the sense that you’re a long way from a home you can never return to.
As you fall through the universe, you’ll find civilisations and colonies established by pre-FTL human travellers, or other Voyageurs like yourself, who opted to drop into uncharted space and establish their own worlds. The universe itself is procedurally generated so no two playthroughs should be the same, but the assorted story vignettes and characters you can recruit to your crew are, of course, written by hand. The one-way-trip angle definitely lends this a more contemplative, philosophical edge than most space exploration games.
The thought of tumbling downwards, finding yourself snagged on entire empires as you fall is an enticing concept, and something that I’d definitely like to try my hand at. That said, John was excitedly eyeing up Voyageur, so we’ll most likely know Wot He Thinks about it before too long, if he ever finds out how to send a message back uphill through space. Wish him luck.
Voyageur is out now on Linux, Mac & Windows for $5 (or $8 for the game and soundtrack), and you can find it here on Itch.io.