It’s tough to hang out and have a latte in space. Every time you wake up you find yourself facing radiation poisoning, suffocation from lack of life support, or just complete and utter devastation where everyone you’ve ever loved dies in front of your eyes. If you’re looking for your next holiday try Ibiza, or Skegness… just not space. But we can’t resist it, can we?
We all want to boldly go where no man or woman has ever gone before, and The Long Journey Home is no different, taking us on to an adventure into the unknown. But is it the new Star Trek or does it come across more like some Pigs in Space?
You start The Long Journey Home with a heavy decision to make; one of choice. I hate having to make choices in real life, let alone in games as it makes me feel queasy and here it is no different – who do you take with you on your fantastic voyage? Do you take a pilot, a botanist, a philosopher or even the intern? Personally, when it’s time for an intern to head to the unknown, then you know the human race is in trouble. Each of these 10 characters have different attributes and thoughts on space travel though, and you may well find that some will be able to help you on the journey ahead. You’ll need to choose wisely.
It is from here where you leave for the great journey into the unknown. The first part of the gameplay sees you controlling a small ship out in the wide expanses of space, leaving you to accelerate and steer into the orbit of an interesting planet, allowing you to then land. Once down on terra firma the next part of the gameplay employs you with attempting to pilot an orbital lander vehicle successfully onto mining spots, possible locations for exploration, or the chance to meet exotic species.
Without a word of a lie, both of the gameplay sections found in The Long Journey Home can be tricky to action, but it is the second – that of piloting the orbital lander – which will make you want to scream and throw yourself out of an airlock. But in the same breath, that is part of the draw with the game; space travel is not meant to be easy. I just wish it could be a bit more enjoyable.
The story that accompanies this is, frankly, brilliant and involves you travelling to Mars after leaving Earth to test a new scientific jump system – or something more technical than I’m describing. It, of course, all goes pear-shaped and you find yourself light years away across the universe, attempting to action the long journey home.
The good thing is that each journey you make is different, delivering a multitude of personal stories, some great encounters with the strange, discoveration of aliens or the usual “oh my god, we’re all going to die” scenarios. Alien encounters are really interesting in fact and there are some nicely written scenes on offer here, leaving you to try and work with the best choices. This is the highlight of the game for me and I love the premise and the possibilities on offer.
Away from that though and the rest of The Long Journey Home is intentionally hard as nails and the two little game types that make up the action will see you battling constant fuel problems, crew injury, and bloody hull damage. It’s a nightmare and you will wish you’d never heard of words like ‘space’, ‘ships’ or ‘critical’ ever again. I have destroyed my crew countless times, but there is something about the game that makes you want to go back to try again and again. I guess it’s the lure of exploration that keeps you coming back for more.
It also comes with a nice visual tone that sets the scene well. I love the first take-off, the cities in the background, and the simple asteroid-type ship navigating across the galaxy. The character designs are great and there are some nice touches throughout. It does get a bit samey after a while, but overall it brings a cool and sharp vibe throughout.
This all sees The Long Journey Home become a game that, at times, is easy to love; scope, energy and innovation come to the fore. I really dig the visual design and the way it has tried to do many different things in its execution. The problem though is that it is, firstly too expensive, and secondly, very hard and getting through the landing section, drilling and getting out again without killing the crew is at times impossible. But that said, there are no doubt many gamers out there who love a challenge, looking forward to the task in front of them.
If you’re looking for an strange little alternative to No Man’s Sky then look no further than The Long Journey Home.