The Longest Journey Home
[ Introduction ]
It all started as a quick test run which would see our astronauts travel to Alpha Centauri and back. Sadly things did not go according to plan. You and your crew experience a jump drive malfunction that sends your craft into the void of space miles away from home, Alpha Centauri.
The only course of action now is to find your way back home through the vast reaches of space.
[ Gameplay ]
What we have here is a rogue-like space exploration experience. Your crew is trying to survive through the dark void of space against all the odds. Keeping a check on your supplies such as oxygen reserves, fuel for your ship as well as making sure all aspects of your craft is carefully maintained. During your journey, you will need to keep an eye on your ship’s statistics such as its hull integrity, fuel and general welfare of your craft as each encounter with a hostile alien race or an asteroid collision will have negative impacts on your ship and crew. Also, you need to maintain your secondary craft, the lander, which allows you to travel to different planets’ surfaces to gather resources. Such as minerals and materials that are used to refuel your main vessel, fix damaged components or refuel your jump drive.
These are all essential aspects of The Long Journey Home as without having specific components working you won’t be able to use different tools or crafts. For example, if your lander is destroyed, then you will not be able to gather or travel to any planets surfaces. Meaning there will be no way to find, locate items or materials to fix your primary vessel. However, beware this may require an upfront deposit of your limited cash supply.
Of course, ship maintenance is essential but also make sure your crew are in good health too.
You also pick a few crew members. Each one having there own unique abilities to either fix equipment or hull damage. There is no wrong answer here, but every choice will affect the outcome of each play through.
At the beginning of your adventure, you can select a vessel and lander. Each ship has its own statistics such as: providing a solid defense against attacks or having a bigger cargo hold which will allow you to gather more supplies in the long run. Also, you’ll pick four individuals you want to take with you on your long journey home. Once you begin your journey, you will start flying your main vessel around each individual solar system. Jumping to a new universe once you have gathered enough jump drive fuel from newly discovered planets. Each universe has its own range of planets, effects such as radiation or asteroid belts to name a few.
At any point, you are allowed to freely visit any planet you wish with your lander which will separate from your main ship and enter a planet’s atmosphere. After flying down to a planet, you have full control over your lander using the analogue stick to angle its trajectory and using your thrusters to keep air born. It doesn’t have unlimited fuel, so use it sparingly. Each planet has its own gravity to so be extra careful when entering a planet with extreme gravity as it could be your downfall. Always read the information for each planet before setting a course. Once you’re in the planet’s atmosphere you can mine for materials with your drill bit or look for places of interest. You may also stumble on to an alien city or even a new life-form that might want to converse with you. Some of these interactions can lead to new jobs, item shops, and even learning a new language. You may also encounter hostile aliens that don’t approve of the company your keeping, which may lead to a few space battles.
There’s never a dull moment in The Long Journey Home… however, the long journey home is very unpredictable, and you will never know what you may encounter… one minute everything is going according to plan and the next minute you will be hailed by an aggressive alien ship demanding payment for entering their airspace. These choices can last an entire journey, you never know which one could end your run…for good. This can make sessions enjoyable but also frustrating as things can go wrong pretty quickly and you lose it all in the blink of an eye.
The rogue-like nature is apparent from the very beginning of the game. As anything can happen when you are flying around the void of space. You could crash land on a planet with a lot of gravity, and this may cause you, lander pilot, to suffer a severe injury… he/she may break their arm or receive a head injury which will cause that member to slowly become ill and even die. There may be a time where aliens abduct one of your crew-mates for a sexual encounter… I kid you not. Or your crew may become ill from eating a strange plant.
These events happen randomly, and you will never know when something may occur. However, if a crew member dies, they won’t be coming back. Upon destruction of your ship or death of all crew members your game will be over. You do have a chance to rewind time to maybe get a different outcome by choosing differently.
There are a few different points of view while controlling your ships.
Moving a yellow arrow which is supposed to be your primary vessel. As you cross the different solar systems you’re exploring. You need to use the left analog stick to control ships trajectory and your thrusters with the A button to increase or decrease depending on where you want to travel. It is a clunky system, and I found it difficult to control.
Only occurs when entering a planet’s atmosphere. Which sees you controlling your small ship across a 2D scrolling environment gathering minerals, locating alien cities, old ruins to collect information and learn alien dialects.
You can enter wormholes or make contact with other ships. This section allows a closer bird’s eye view of your main ship. Control it with the analog stick and face buttons. These sections are my favourite parts of the game but sadly don’t happen nearly enough.
Leave me alone
The issues I have with this title are numerous. First the game would have been a lot better if it wasn’t so heavily focused on gathering materials all the time. I felt like 70% of the time I was doing the same repetitive tasks of finding a planet to mine all its resources just so I could move on to a new universe. Plus the random nature means any number of different events could rob you of your hard-earned minerals. Which can be a pain if you are trying to find enough resources to refuel your main ship or locate enough oxygen, so your crew won’t suffocate. This becomes tedious as all I wanted to do was explore the vast regions of space.
Another issue I have is the constant loading screens which pop up every couple minutes. Every time you venture to a new planet, wormhole, universe etc. there’s another loading. There’s too many of them, they can take anywhere to two minutes or longer, after the hundredth loading screen I was ready to put the game down. It is ridiculous and pulls you out of experience constantly.
My last gripe is how expensive this game currently is on eShop. It costs £26.99, and while there is content here to play, I don’t think it is worth this hefty price tag. The game should really be priced at about £10.99 at max.
[ Visual and Perfomance ]
For the most part, the graphics were beautiful to look at. Especially when entering all different planets as each one has their own unique environments and day/night cycles. There are lots different alien races and ship designs. Telling me that a lot of care has gone into creating this game’s world.
[ Sound ]
The music is quite relaxing. At times the sounds are soft and all you can hear is your ship’s thrusters or beeps and blips from the computers. Sound effects do an admiral job making you feel as though you are in deep space, still some of the music tracks can be epic.
[ Conclusion ]
I really wanted to love The Long Journey Home but its constant loading screens pulled me out of the experience more times than I would like. The rogue-like nature also felt shoehorned into which can frustrate the player with its random events that can cripple your resources or ship to the point where there was little chance of recovery.
I wanted to explore the hundreds of different galaxies, but I was restricted to the tedious task of resource management. I like the concept but just wish it would let me explore the vast reaches of space… without restriction. There is potential here but the constant loading screens and rogue-like elements prevent it from being a must-have title on the switch.
Looking for something different check out our review of River City Girls HERE!