The Long Journey Home – Xbox One Review
In The Long Journey Home, a narrative heavy, rogue like space exploration RPG, you’ll take charge of a hand-picked crew lost in space. Tasked with gathering resources and navigating not only the vastness of space, but the political and social foibles of a variety of alien species, Journey Home provides a challenging and compelling experience.
Beginning with some narrative about an experimental drive failure which leaves you and your crew stranded in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, Journey quickly gets you into the action (although action may be a misnomer – this is not Elite, or even No Man’s Sky). Select a crew from a bunch of diverse personalities, all with various strengths, weaknesses and quirks, and begin your adventure.
The Long Journey Home’s strengths are in the variety it offers. Based on various seeds, it provides a vast amount of replayability and multiple playthroughs will be required to discover all of the games alien species and encounters. Each race of aliens has defining characteristics; some are insular, some keen to trade, some are aggressive and so on. There’s an inevitable element of stereotyping present, with some intrinsically human traits on offer (avoid the race of religious fanatics who want to spread their good news if you can), but there’s more than enough diversity on offer to keep you interested.
Each encounter provides an opportunity to gather resources or information, all of which are vital to your success. The rogue like nature of the game doesn’t allow you to power up your ship with each restart, but the information you’ve acquired will be vital in teaching you which alien encounters are useful, and which are best avoided.
Conversations with the games eight (as far as I can tell) alien types are generally quite interesting and varied. You’ll be presented with a plethora of dialogue options which give each encounter a fresh feel. Narrative is genuinely good, and it’s apparent a lot of thought has gone into making the aliens distinct from each other.
They aren’t the only way to gather resources however. Asteroid fields and mining on planets offer rich rewards, but those choices are a gamble as you have to constantly evaluate the risk of potential damage or fuel expenditure versus the rewards on offer. It can be tricky too. Much of the game takes place from the view point of your cockpit, but on those occasions where you have to pilot the ship, Journey Home becomes a physics based challenge. Using thrust and boosters is frustrating, and I often found myself burning precious fuel because I’d missed orbit and shot into space. Likewise, each planet offers a different challenge, some have high cross winds, or extreme temperatures for example, which makes controlling your lander really tough.
An extensive tutorial does its best to address most of these problems, and only idiots like me who couldn’t wait to jump into the main game should have persistent piloting issues. Fail to master them at your peril though, as success depends on efficient resource management. Blow all that fuel in one clumsy manoeuvre and back to the beginning you go. A little wiser, admittedly, but that’s scant consolation for losing a few hours progress.
You’ll be unlikely to complete Journey Home on your first playthrough, but each successful journey should take about six hours. Gathering all of the achievements and experiencing everything on offer will definitely take multiple playthroughs, but the seed system and variety it offers will reward players who come back for more.
The Long Journey Home is a richly detailed, challenging experience which quickly and efficiently sucked me in. For those willing and able to master the complexities of the game, it will provide a rewarding and memorable adventure with an abundance of replayability and variety. At £31.99, it isn’t priced as a budget title, but thankfully it doesn’t play like one. Recommended, particularly for fans of the genre.
Many thanks to Daedalic Entertainment for the review code.