Suspended somewhere between the realm of “game” and “visual novel”, Old Man’s Journey delivers an experience that you’ll probably be expecting based on the title alone.
Playing as an old man, your journey starts when a letter arrives. Donning a backpack, the old man’s encounter with places and things sparks memories that allow you to see into his past and unveil the story behind the mysterious letter.
It’s a journey that will be nostalgic for anybody that’s ever gone backpacking through Europe. The artwork and scenery is reminiscent of many a quaint French town. The picturesque train rides and changing landscapes are bound to spark a hint of wanderlust from the comfort of your armchair. It’s the kind of game that will make you want to dig out old photos or maybe just carry a baguette in your tote bag.
Paired with this is the kind of relaxed gameplay that is far removed from frantic button mashing. If you’ve read my other game reviews, you’ll know that I’m quite fond of games that have minimalist instructions. There’s a real art to conveying ideas without lengthy speeches or tutorials. And that is what Old Man’s Journey accomplishes. Throwing you straight into the action, it isn’t hard to figure out what to do. Click where you want the old man to go. If he’s unable to get there, you have to somehow manipulate the landscape, which usually involves raising or lowering various parts of the land. There are some puzzles, but none of them are hard enough to warrant any frustration.
If you’re the kind of gamer that loves fast-paced challenges and satisfaction that is derived from hard-won achievements this may not be the game for you. In fact, some parts were so slow that I wondered if the game had stalled or if I simply wasn’t triggering the right event (turns out it was the latter). There are also some red herring paths that look like they should go places but end up being dead ends. Thankfully they’re not long diversions though so my advice is to just take this as part of the puzzling process.
Story-wise, the game is a bit of a tearjerker or at the very least, will cause you to do a bit of light soul-searching. It’s aptly fitting for a game that you’d take with you in place of a good holiday book. So grab a drink, put up your feet and enjoy the views.