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Away: Journey To The Unexpected launches its charm offensive February

The power of friendship is the ultimate weapon

Away: Journey To The Unexpected is a preposterously cute game. Launching on February 13th (or earlier from GOG), it's a first-person action RPG by Aurélien Regard (The Next Penelope), and as much about making weird new friends as bopping monsters on the head. I've had the chance to play around with an early build, and it feels like an unusual blend of inspirations. Part PSX-era dungeon crawler, part Earthbound, a little bit of roguelike to spice things up and always cute as a button. Below, a trailer and ten minutes of friend-making, dungeon-crawling fun.

Away feels a bit like a first-person Earthbound game. The player character is a young kid living with his grandparents after his parents left on a mysterious mission. After delving into the basement to investigate a strange noise, you find a network of tunnels leading to strange new lands, all of which seem to have a bit of a monster problem. Being a kid, the hero doesn't have much health or attack power. Smaller enemies can be whacked with a stick or blown up with a small stock of firecrackers, but you'll want some buddies to do the heavy lifting for you.

In each hub area, there are some NPCs that can be befriended. Some need something done for them, while others need to be charmed through multiple-choice dialogue trees. Want a giant missile-spewing robot to join you? Convince it that you're a superior model by doing math involving really long numbers. Once recruited, you can switch to controlling any of your buddies so you can use their attacks and abilities. You get some neat first-person effects, too - a frazzled wizard sees the world through cracked, bleary glasses, while the missile mech has a flickering HUD overlay.

While friends eventually go away once their stamina (combined ammo/health) is drained, they'll remain unlocked. If you die and start a new run, that friend will be happy to join again, with no hoops to jump through. While I was unsure if the roguelike elements gelled too well with the story, my impressions are from poking around a pre-release version. We'll have a full review build to explore soon. In the meantime, watch that ten minute walkthrough above for a proper look at Away's bright, bouncy and troubled world. I'm sure that mutation will clear right up, Mr Manager.

Away: Journey To The Unexpected launches on Steam on February 13th for £11.09/€13.99/$13.99, though thanks to the magic of behind-the-scenes exclusivity deals, GOG users will be able to pick it up a week early, starting February 5th. It's published by Playdius.

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Dominic Tarason


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