(disclaimer: received game for free)
TLJH is a space game that bucks the trend. Never have I played a game which so perfectly captures my understanding of the reality of a human crew space mission. Most games want to give you a tough avatar, so your ship can take a pounding, fly anywhere, refuel for nothing and protect you. TLJH spins that on its head by making your spacecraft a(disclaimer: received game for free)
TLJH is a space game that bucks the trend. Never have I played a game which so perfectly captures my understanding of the reality of a human crew space mission. Most games want to give you a tough avatar, so your ship can take a pounding, fly anywhere, refuel for nothing and protect you. TLJH spins that on its head by making your spacecraft a precious and fragile resource.
The early part of the game is punishing. There is no hand-held tutorial or lengthy explanation of survival strategy. Learning all the mistakes which will kill your crew and destroy your ship can be frustrating. The game forces you to consider your first few forays as the training the Daedalus' crew would have undoubtedly undertaken. Even down to simple tasks such as lining up the drill head or staying stable on a planet with high winds have to be learned on the hoof.
But there is a point during The Long Journey Home when you realise that you have been steadily trained with an impressive array of skills and judgement. You feel like an EXPERT. Asteroid fields, which once represented certain calamity, now offer a safe and manageable way to gather resources. You become adept at judging whether a system or planet is worth visiting for its resources, which crew member to send, on which on-board issues to spend your precious and limited resources. Is the Lander drill only collecting Hydrogen at 70%? I might live with that. I'd rather fix the Fuel Efficiency. The Long Journey Home is, in keeping with its name, a marathon rather than a sprint.
Brimming beneath this voyaging simulation is a universe of surprising personality and content. Numerous alien races, with a multitude of named NPCs come your way and offer detailed quests. Ancient and recent ruins litter nearby planets. Brothels, tournaments and obscure games played with stones all randomly colour your journey through the black. 15 hours in I have seen very little content twice.
Lastly, despite essentially being a grown-up Thrust clone, The Long Journey Home is incredibly beautiful. It's the treatment Thrust might get if a major movie studio decided to adapt it. I'm an Elite Dangerous veteran, but TLJH still surprised me with its light-mottled wreckage drifts, vast planetary horizons and forests of tall crystal. The sound is minimalist, but perfectly captures the bleak loneliness of the journey, occasionally interspersed with life-threatening drama.
Perhaps the only sticking point I can see is the price. The simple play style and interface does not seem at first like the sort of game to command $40. The vast alien cultures and depth are hidden away, perhaps unfortunately, behind a text-comms interface. Having played it, I would pay that price. It certainly has the depth to warrant it, but perhaps it will put players off by looking too indie for a full price tag? My advice would be: don't hold back. Don't miss out on one of the years most truly unique and beautiful titles.… Expand