Great Journey - Official Website
Recently, Rebelmind, the developer behind Grom, gave me a chance to play the first few levels of their upcoming children’s title, Great Journey and even took few minutes out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions. I need to point out that these levels are from an incomplete build of the game so everything I comment on is subject to change. Additionally, Great Journey is not yet fully translated into English so some odd wording may have made me miss a feature or two.
An adventure game in the style of Sierra’s old classics, the Great Journey lets you explore a large number of environments filled with “hot spots” (areas that can be clicked to produce varying results). As the player, you navigate from area to area, solving puzzles, searching for hidden objects, and speaking with a handful of other characters. Rather than being a mindless “zone-out fest,” Great Journey entertains the player while challenging him or her to think. Great Journey also imparts a lesson about keeping Earth clean.
From the moment Great Journey’s title screen fades in, the game exudes a bright and cheerful personality. Lighthearted and peppy music; crisp, colorful graphics; and an air of adventure typify Great Journey’s presentation. I challenge any gamer, young or old, to play Great Journey for more than five minutes and not be charmed by its youthful exuberance.
Great Journey earns a huge “plus” in my book for allowing gamers to play as either a boy or girl (a feature missing from far too many games). What’s more, Great Journey gives each player an icon that will represent him or her. This Icon will then appear on the main menu page and simply clicking it will transport that player to where he or she last was. This system lets multiple gamers select their own icon, thus alleviating any headaches associated with figuring out whose save file belongs to whom—something families with multiple children will immediately appreciate.
The interface used in Great Journey is appropriately simple and, for the most part, uses only the left mouse button. Navigation is as simple as placing the cursor over where you want to go and giving the mouse a “click”. To make things even easier, when you hold your mouse over and area you can walk to, the cursor turns into a large set of footprints. Likewise, moving the mouse over an area where you can travel from one screen to the next turns the cursor into the image of a door.
At the bottom of the screen, you have four very large inventory slots that hold any items you may collect along your journey. To pick up and item, simply left click on it and to store it in your inventory, click the left button again while holding the object over an inventory slot.
One of Great Journey’s strongest features is that it lets the player act as a sleuth. Using a magnifying glass, the player can examine any number of objects. By examining their surroundings, the player can find keys, “clue points,” or whatever their current mission may calls for. Even if examining an object fails to yield a useful item, Great Journey still rewards the player. When placed under the magnifying glass, an object will respond with some form of whimsical animation—flowers will spring upwards, lampposts will dance, and so on. Accompanying these animations are comical sound effects. It’s a minor detail I suppose but one that helps to keep the game stimulating at all times.
Keeping the gameplay varied and adding some excitement into the mix are Great Journey’s mini-games. Essentially, these enjoyable distractions are boiled-down versions of more complex games that older gamers will remember. For instance, “Rescue the Port” plays out much like the classic, “Galaxian” except with old shoes, cans, and various other refuse drifting in from the sea while the player tries to scoop them up before they reach the dock and clog the harbor. As for difficulty, they are not hard but even I had to replay an American-style soccer mini-game before winning so the challenge level should be ideal for younger gamers.
Great Journey uses both spoken word and subtitles for its dialogue and instructions. While the version I played had yet to be fully translated, a few things became apparent. Firstly, Great Journey does an excellent job of giving the player a sense of accomplishment. After successfully completing tasks, I was congratulated in such a way that should make younger gamers feel proud, not patronized. Further still, the game keeps away from any sort of negativity. Even the Captain, a gruff Sea Dog, comes off as an endearing. My only concern is (and this may be due to the unfinished translation) that the objectives were not always clear. An option to review your mission goals would be a welcome addition. Going by the current level of polish found in Great Journey, this issue will almost certainly be addressed in the final version.
I am very impressed with my preview copy of Rebelmind’s Great Journey. If the two levels of I played are indicative of the final product, both younger gamers and parents alike should be anticipating this title. Parents will appreciate Great Journey for providing their children with a fun, violence-free game that encourages problem solving and warns of the pitfalls associated with needless pollution. Younger gamers will appreciate the challenging mini-games, thought-provoking puzzles, exploring the widely varied environments, and the fact that Great Journey will treat them as young gamers, not “little kids”.