Old Man’s Journey feels like a kids book that was made for adults.
Before we start I just want to get this off my chest.
Alluring, appealing, charming, cute, dazzling, delicate, delightful, elegant, exquisite, fascinating, fine, good-looking, gorgeous, graceful, grand, handsome, lovely, magnificent, marvelous, pleasing, pretty, splendid, stunning, superb, wonderful, admirable, angelic, beauteous, bewitching, classy, comely, divine, enticing, excellent, fair, foxy, ideal, nice, pulchritudinous, radiant, ravishing, refined, resplendent, shapely, sightly, statuesque, sublime, symmetrical, taking. — There that’s every synonym for beautiful and how I feel about Old Man’s Journey’s art. Yes, I even learned a new word pulchritudinous; go google that one.
Why go to all that trouble in listing those words? Well, Old’s Man Journey is definitely a game that falls into the category of gamer art. This is a short bite-sized sweet experience that you will enjoy wrapped up in your blankets while sipping hot chocolate. This isn’t as robust as other ‘GameArt’ titles such as “Everything” or deeply engrossing like “Journey”. Old Man’s Journey is pleasant, simply put. It does exactly what it needs to, in the correct amount, and never hits a snag. This game is made extremely well and I can’t recommend this game enough.
I have seen a recent surge in these types of games and I hope it continues and flourishes. If you enjoyed Burly Men at Sea, then this is right up your alley. Old Man’s Journey is a storybook that you get to play with, gasp at its superb art and probably cry a little. One thing of note though is that while the games tone is delightful, it may raise some trigger flags for younger kids. Especially those without fathers, so take that as you will.
At its core Old Man’s Journey is a story but it also has to be a game too right?
Just like everything else about this title, the game mechanics are short and sweet. You play the old man on his journey. Duh. While on his journey though, you will help him along as he traverses terrain. Formerly a Navy man, he picks up his stick and bag and starts hot footing it across hills, cities, plains, you name it.
Where you as the player come in is adjusting how the terrain is laid out, literally. You can pull and push hills, roads, and tracks around so that they line up. This is purely done with your mouse as there is no controller support. Then the old man just simply hops to the next layer to get where he needs to go. At first it feels a little odd watching the old man sink farther into the background or move closer but you eventually get a zen going and you hardly notice. The puzzle aspect is simple but the developer adds a little more complexity as you go. Hills become two sided, old stone walls begin to block your path and waterfalls must be managed.
Rest assured though nothing is really that hard. It’s more of relaxing experience then any kind of a puzzle game. You are going to make progress no matter what usually and there is no game over. Now this is the only ‘game’ aspect to Old Man’s Journey and I am completely okay with this. The rest of the game more then makes up for it with its (looks at list) DAZZLING art and soundtrack. There are moments when the game mechanics shine and make me smile. When you board a train and have to quickly begin lining up the tracks ahead was fun and challenging to keep up with.
As you complete sections of the game you are rewarded with a memory and this is where the art kicks into breathtaking detail and the story unfolds.
Did I mention the art was (looks at list) angelic?
While I am sure you are growing tired of me mentioning the art, the details, the use of color in playful ways never ceased to amaze me. The art itself does tell its own story on top of the actual story. There was an anime that I watched long time ago called Robot Carnival. The anime displayed a broad range of stories, art styles and themes. Old Man’s Journey captured for me those same feelings. At the start you feel wondrous and adventurous, then there are times you will feel sad and lonely. This never stops you from admiring the storm and scenery even in the bleakest of moments. That speaks to how well controlled the tone is in Old Man’s Journey.
Then Old Man’s Journey will shift its tone and the storm clears and you are seeing a whale jump out of the water. These moments, while small, have a huge impact. They did for me anyway.
Usually now is when I would start talking about story. I am not going to do that. This is a title that is best enjoyed on your own. What I will say is, Old Man’s Journey does deal with some rather serious topics. Even if it approaches those in a family friendly and delightful way. There are times this feels odd. The entire aesthetic feels very warm and friendly but there are times where as they say, “s**t gets real.”
To balance, control, and support that tone we have the music and everything else.
The soundtrack for Old Man’s Journey is as playful as its art style. There are many styles of music that were incorporated into the game. While it is all instrumental, that doesn’t stop the game from exploring music as much as you are exploring the world in your journey. Visiting an exotic village location usually has some really fun beats to match. There is as much attention paid to the music as the rest of the game.
The sound effects are expertly crafted to coordinate with the games sound effects. I could listen to the sea crashing against the cliffs for hours. Thunderstorms feel even more powerful with the soundtrack coming behind it. It’s something you will hardly notice but that’s because the developer weaved it together so well.
You can currently purchase the soundtrack on Steam and if you enjoy instrumental music, you won’t be disappointed.
There are very few issues I could find with Old Man’s Journey.
The game does what exactly what it set out to do. That said, there are areas that the game will come up short because of what it is. For one, the game does have a heavy App like feeling. You can tell that this game is on multiple mobile devices. This is abundantly obvious from the menus and how you navigate the game. While this didn’t particularly bother me, it might be irksome to others.
Old Man’s Journey is a short adventure, topping out for me at a total of two hours game time. You could stretch that in either direction but its not going to stray too far. Like I said earlier, it’s a short but sweet game. Replay value is also going to be questionable at best. You may enjoy playing this title over and over again for its relaxing nature, but just keep in mind what it is. A lovely little story.
Currently there are Steam cards but no achievements and I don’t really expect there to be any. It just doesn’t seem like it would fit for this type of game. That can change of course.
We have come to the end of our own journey.
I had an amazing time with Old Man’s Journey. It was fun, unique, sad, and wonderful all at the same time. For that alone it deserves your attention, as its hard to capture all that in one experience. It may not be reinventing the wheel as far as the game industry goes, but its perfect for what it is. I personally want more titles like Old Man’s Journey. These experiences are akin to books, in that they let you escape the ordinary world, giving you access to explore art, music, and emotions. If that isn’t what gaming is all about, then I don’t know what is. The cherry on top is that you can get Old Man’s Journey for $7.99/£5.59.
If you are looking for something that you can relax, enjoy, and surrender to on a emotional and visual level, then look no further than Old Man’s Journey.