Original Journey ✔ is a shining example of why I love indie games and support talented indie developers. I’ve had the privilege of playing both the pre and post release builds, and I was astonished on both occasions with the quality of the entire gaming experience. This is exactly the type of video game review I like to write, one that highlights a truly hidden gem.
Original Journey is a 2D side-scrolling adventure RPG and shooter with roguelike elements from indie developer Bonfire Entertainment and published by Another Indie. In regard to gameplay, the game is what I would consider simple but not simplistic. The beginning of the game alerts us to the nature of our character and this company of vegetable-like “Ato” who are on an as of yet undisclosed mission in this strange place. The game proceeds very much in a linear fashion, one area after the next, one objective after the next, so it’s virtually impossible to find yourself “lost” and unsure of how to proceed. As we venture into the forest, we find procedurally generated levels with their own objectives/quests, resources and enemies, and each more difficult than the last.
During gameplay, we unlock a variety of weapons and suits, each unique in function and benefits, and find a variety of loot utilized for upgrades. This is where the roguelike elements come in, because when our character dies, it respawns back at base, and we can then venture out again. However, we will have lost whatever items were in our cargo hold at the time, so frequent trips back to base to store loot are a must. This is a game with definite “rinse and repeat,” but I never found it boring or unnecessarily difficult.
In regard to time commitment, I have over 21 hours into Original Journey, but I completed the game content available in both builds more than once, so this can easily be completed in one 3-5 hour gaming session, dependent upon how much exploring you do. It can also be completed in short increments, saving your progress to revisit at a later time, so this is not a game that requires a huge commitment on your part to enjoy.
Graphically, it’s beautiful, a muted color pallette allows the player to focus more on the striking hand-drawn artwork and less on flashy graphic effects. I found the graphics very refreshing actually and consider it to be an excellent example of what an ambitious creative team can accomplish.
The soundtrack is another plus. It’s not at all overpowering or annoying. It’s actually quite impressive, and sound effects can alert you to hazards. However, hearing impaired players and those who prefer to game with little to no sound will still be able to enjoy the game by relying on visual cues.
Developmentally, Original Journey is solid. I did not encounter any game breaking bugs at any time, and never encountered any kind of bug or glitch once the full release was published. There’s plenty of content to enjoy, and the controller mechanics were spot on. Shooters are one of many types of games where poorly developed control schemes can ruin the entire experience for a gamer, but I can assure you that is not a factor for Original Journey. Game progression is steadily paced, and the levels, while not complex, are certainly enjoyable and don’t inhibit the progressing storyline.
Original Journey also has definite replayability. Because the levels are procedurally generated, with resources, enemies, and even supply drops varying from one playthrough to the next, and because the player can choose weapons, turrets, and suits, and also control turret placement, the game can be revisited at anytime. I’ve yet to play through the game in exactly the same way twice.
Overall, I definitely recommend Original Journey, especially to gamers who enjoy shooters, roguelike/roguelite games, RPGs, and adventure games. There is much to appreciate and enjoy aesthetically, but that aside, the gameplay is truly enjoyable. In fact, I’m holding out hope for additional content or even a sequel. I enjoyed it that much.
Original Journey can be purchased on Steam ✔.