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About the Story
Have you mettle enough to make siege on the Dread Lord himself? ...We shall see.
Though the parser is extremely easy to use, it makes for very linear game play. In most cases it is impossible to return to a room that you have just left. At times the game seems more like one of those Adventure Game Decision Books than it does a computer game, though it still presents you with many more choices to be made than the average book does. Still, the game allows less interaction than most text games do, and the graphics only partially compensate for it. Some sort of sound and music capability should have been included.
Journey's plot is a variation on that made famous by Tolkien and imitated many times since then. A Dark Lord (here called "Dread Lord" ) is wreaking havoc on the countryside and its populace, so a questing party is formed and sent to seek the wizard Astrix for his advice. After many perils, they reach Astrix who sends them on a quest to break the Dread Lord's power. Since Journey is only part 1 of the Golden Age Trilogy, and parts 2 and 3 were never written, we don't get to see the Dread Lord's final defeat.
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The recounting of the tale in diary form, i.e. in the past tense and from Tag's point of view, is the first thing that makes this an adventure with a difference. (Tag can be renamed at the start so you can play as a character of your own choosing.) The second is the unique interface with which you guide your party of characters on their quest and which is simplicity itself to use.
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I had played this game twenty years ago and enjoyed it, but I recall there was one place where I had to save-scum my way through. Recently, I gave this another try and figured out the apparent intended solution without cheating. Since no other walkthroughs adequately explained how to solve that puzzle, I created one of my own. It is now posted on gamefaqs, along with an in-depth guide for just the one puzzle.
As for the game itself, I liked it because the menu-driven system (making optional use of a mouse), which replaced the old parser, made it painless to play through multiple times. Combined with the beautiful illustrations and fantasy storytelling, this is a masterpiece that many players might have missed.
Gameplay is mostly linear with some path-branching. Getting through the entire game is mostly based on trial-and-error, particularly with respect to use of magic, since essence is scarce. There are some decisions you make early in the story that determine whether the game is unwinnable near the end (like (Spoiler - click to show)taking the spyglass and (Spoiler - click to show)collecting hawkbane), and some randomized apparently-mundane detail buried near the beginning of the story is essential toward solving the last puzzle. If you enjoy the story enough, having to play through multiple times shouldn't matter to you.
I wish Infocom had been able to complete the Golden Age trilogy, especially since the endgame leaves a mystery as to one of the characters you meet along the way. Perhaps the other two stories will be written someday.
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