Journal screams intrigue. Not physically, of course. That wouldn't make for a particularly fun game and would also be existentially horrifying. It does, however, have quite a few tantalizing highlights nestled within its crisp, comfortingly musty pages. For one, Kairo creator Richard Perrin's on dev duty, but this time around, he's eschewing gloriously abstract puzzles in favor of the most stultifying brain-bender of them all: human relationships. The adventure, whose story is being penned by Melissa Royall, is about "the difficulties and responsibilities of childhood." A game starring children who aren't on a quest to save the world from whomever burned down their village and might be an allegory for the Christian incarnation of god? Will wonders never cease?
Unfortunately, Perrin's not delving too deeply into specifics just yet, but here are the basics:
"The game lies on the other end of the adventure gaming spectrum to Kairo. Journal is about the difficulties of responsibilities of childhood and has no puzzles relying instead entirely on character interaction and dialogue. The focus of the game will be how you choose to deal with the problems faced by a young girl and how your choices affect your relationships with the people in her life."
The setting and story actually remind me a bit of the Fullbright Company's excellent-looking Gone Home, although Perrin and Royall's execution of it is obviously going extremely far in another direction. Regardless, I'm all for more games that explore new perspectives and, perhaps more importantly, cast light on the challenges they're bombarded with for simply existing. Journal looks like it'll fit that bill in quite an interesting fashion.
Also of note: Journal has been an on-and-off project for Perrin since 2008. Whether that bodes ill (he could halt it again) or well (he's finally confident enough to officially announce it) is still up in the air, but - if nothing else - I imagine he's paved over any cracks in its foundation with plenty of thought.
For now, Journal has no set-in-stone release date, but it already looks quite nice. Of course, it could end up miserably boring without puzzles to guide the way, but I doubt this idea spent five years roaming Perrin's interminable brain labyrinth without picking up something to fill in the gaps. At this point, then, it's well worth keeping an eye on. Hopefully we'll hear more soon.
Thanks, Indie Statik.