Old Man's Journey Review(Switch)
A Journey Of Amends.
Old Man's Journey is a visual narrative puzzle game developed and published by Broken Rules. It is a port of the IOS and PC version and seems to translate very well.
It's going to be hard to tell you the story of this game without going into spoiler territory. I do not want to give away direct spoilers that will ruin the story and the experience itself as I feel this is the type of game that needs to be gone into without fully knowing the entire story,but I'll do my best to try to explain it without giving too much away.
In Old Man's Journey, you play as.... an old man of course. During the opening of the game you receive a letter from a postman on a bicycle, you as the old man proceed to read the letter to yourself on the porch of his house,which resides on a beautiful and bliss mountain top. After taking a moment to reflect on what is in letter,the old man decides to set off on a journey to an unknown destination(unknown to the player) and what follows is a tale of atonement,amends and life.
Old Man's Journey is first and foremost a visual narrative game. There is absolutely zero dialogue in the game. The entire story is told through beautifully crafted artwork,scenery ambiance and wonderfully orchestrated music. But fear not, there is also 'some' form of actual game play to be had,albeit,very minimal.
The actual game play in Old Man's Journey consists of 2D puzzles that you must solve in order to move the old man across various environments and help him along his journey. This is done by moving the background environments, such as train tracks,bridges or hill tops by clicking a specific area and dragging them up and down to fit into a specific section of the environment.
For instance, when making the old man walk across a hill top,there may be a place that is too high to reach for him or the path you're on doesn't connect directly with the area you need to be at. When this happens you have to see which parts of the environment you are on can be pulled and dragged up and down to connect via a yellow line. Once connected properly, the old man can be sent to the location by tapping your face buttons over the desired area you wish to move him.
Bringing up the topic of ''press the button and send the old man to x location'', this game also has game play similar to a point and click adventure. All movement in the game is done via using your pointer on a specific area on the map and clicking on it, once that is done,the old man will walk to that spot if its applicable to do so. He cannot go anywhere he wants to so this is where you have to make sure you have completed the puzzle properly.
Besides walking through vast and beautiful landscapes,you will also come across a few levels where you must move train tracks up and down as the train you're on moves across the valleys. Do not worry though,even if you screw up and don't raise or lower the tracks ahead in time, you will not be penalized. Your train will just screech and stop and wait for you to finish the puzzle so it does not take you out of the immersion the game is trying to keep you in.
Your entire goal is to get the old man from left to right or up and down as creatively as you can in order to unlock the mysteries behind the journey itself.
Throughout Old Man's Journey you will adventure through 15 different locations,all holding secrets to every single one of the games mysteries and what the point of his beautiful journey actually is for. Each environment you proceed to is more gorgeous and amazing looking than the previous one. This makes progressing through the game an absolute treat.
The art style is hand crafted and has a painting like stop motion animation to it almost, it's the best way I personally can described it. Throughout my time with the game and through my journey, I was constantly both in awe and simply charmed by the direction Broken Rules took the game from a visual stand point.
Being that the game is point and click as I previously stated,this bodes well for the environment design because like old point and click games, you can also interact with various items and people that are in the background of each environment,some of which will actually give you a memory cutscene that fills in the blank of what memories the old man has of that specific place,while others may offer something funny that will give you a chuckle or two.
Now that I've given all the praise I just did, I will have to say this game might not be for everyone and not all players will find the same enjoyment I did,especially if this type of style does not suit their needs. This game banks it all on its visual story telling,no words of dialogue are spoken in this game and there are absolutely no text boxes to be found either. Instead all story is told through the use of artwork,scenery,music and character facial animations to convey when something is happy,something is beautiful or when something is sad. This allows me to flow nicely into my next topic,which is... the music.
If I had to be perfectly honest here, I would have to say the music for this game is one my favorite aspects of the entire game. That may sound weird at first but I'll try my best to explain why that is to the best of my abilities.
For games,art or even movies in general that focus squarely and only on a visual narrative to get its point across,music is a must have for these types of pieces of art. Without a strong musical track to convey the vast amounts of emotion you want to make your audience feel,you will not have as strong of an impact as you'd like to have.
Music is one core aspect of this game that Broken Rules absolutely nails. With the already beautiful environments and memory scenes, Broken Rules offers a vast soundtrack that is able to convey so many emotions to the player in only a span of a few minutes. One minute you're walking through a windy field making your way through the puzzles with the sound of wind blowing as the music hits you with a blissful piano tune,while other key music pieces offer up phonograph styles of music that fits its respective scene.
Each piece of music blends perfectly with what each scene are trying to convey to you. Every musical track in the game is trying to trigger a specific emotion within you,whether it be a happy feeling,feeling of awe or an overall feeling of sadness for the character. Its picked and used accordingly and its done very well. More examples of this is being out in the dark cold night as its raining and you hear very soft chimes with tiny piano pieces played every so often that play in intervals with hymn like chorus in the background.
I know I'm going on and on about the music and it might seem a little repetitive, but with my nature of being a very visual and a very imaginative person, its easy for me to feel the raw emotion conveyed through the music that Broken Rules was going for.
Old Man's Journey for people that are interested in or love visual narratives that focus on immersion of environments and the conveying of raw emotional through the use of musical ques, will indeed find this game a complete treat to play. While it might not be the most game play heavy game with its 2D point and click puzzle solving,to me it still offers enough for anyone looking for a quick emotional roller coaster that will leave both a smile on your face and tears in your eyes at the end of the long journey.
Old Man's Journey is out now on Nintendo Switch
*Review code provided by Old Man's Journey