The Longest Journey review
The Good: Absorbing, beautiful, intelligent, and challenging.
The Bad: Nothing lasts forever?

Who would expect a previously unknown Norwegian developer to create such an absorbing and compelling adventure game? The Longest Journey is, quite simply, one of the best adventures ever made.

The story of The Longest Journey might seem a bit simplistic at first. There are two worlds, one of magic, one of science, and a Guardian to keep watch of the Balance between them. The Guardian abandons his position, and the balance is starting to crumble. An everyday girl happens to be the Chosen One [TM] with a Mission To Save The World(s) [TM].

The plot actually turns out to be far from superficial. In fact, it unfolds in such a gradual and natural way that I felt very compelled and intrigued. The story is not nearly as meaty as Jane Jensen's work, but what's there works well. Designer Ragnar Tørnquist has his roots in screenwriting, which really rubbed off on the story. April and her friends get more than enough screen time for the gamer to start caring about them. The first chapters of the game, in which the characters and the first pieces of the story are introduced, are a bit uninteresting. However, the set-up pays off very well in the later chapters (there are a total of 13).

I never thought I'd say this about a computer game, but The Longest Journey is very socially aware. I am pleased to see a strong female character in the leading role. April Ryan is not the heroic Xena battle babe type. She's just an ordinary girl who all of a sudden gets her life turned upside down as she discovers the existence of Arcadia; a parallel world of magic and chaos. April Ryan has the power to shift between the two worlds, and discovers that she has a very important mission in life. The supporting characters are a mix of cultures, gender, sexual preferences and age, and are rarely used in the story as such. Tornquist gave each character its own personality; not just a different accent or stereotype.

The game has a grand and magical atmosphere. Right from the start, the gamer is treated with a visual feast of stunningly rendered full-motion video. The camera movements, music and dramatic lighting all testify of Funcom's understanding of drama and direction. It has been a while since I last saw video sequences that drew me into the game as much as these have. At times I couldn't do anything but gasp as strange creatures and imposing landscapes made their way onto the screen. The two contrasting worlds in the game are rendered with an admirable attention to detail. From the lush, green lands of Arcadia, to the futuristic skyscrapers in Stark (the world of science); each time April takes a shift to the other side, it truly feels as if she landed in another world.

The Longest Journey is a piece of art. I honestly wonder what Funcom could have done with the polygon-count of a Pixar production, or an ILM-sized budget. The graphics are far from perfect, mind you. The real-time rendered 3D characters often don't mix well with the 2D backgrounds, which sometimes even causes legs or arms to stick through solid walls. This doesn't weigh heavily in my book, though. The designers were obviously constrained by the limits of the 2D/3D-hybrid technology. On the other hand, The Longest Journey is very conservative gameplay-wise. If you are looking for technical innovation, such as Gabriel Knight 3's free-floating camera and Grim Fandango's 3D interface, look somewhere else. The Longest Journey is a traditional graphic adventure, which means carrying useless junk around in your inventory and searching for "hotspots" on the screen. In this regard, The Longest Journey doesn't break new ground. But why fix it if it isn't broken? I'm probably asking too much.

The Longest Journey feels like a breath of fresh air among the Myst-style games of recent days. I have decided to award this masterpiece with our highest score. Having said that, I really hope Funcom won't leave it with this. I think I am getting withdrawal symptoms…

(A word of warning: The Longest Journey uses curse words on quite a few occasions. It may be an important issue for some.)



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Game Info

The Longest Journey

Platform:
PC

Genre:
Fantasy, Science Fiction

Developer:
Funcom


Game Page »

United States 1999 Tri-Synergy
United Kingdom March 1 2000 Empire Interactive

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The Longest Journey

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User Score

Average based on 67 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by MrChapeau on Mar 25, 2014

A sense of awe and wonder

From the gritty, believable version of the future to entirely new worlds, The Longest Journey was also one of the most memorable journeys I'... Read the review »

Posted by btague on Jan 14, 2013

One of My Top Five Favorite Adventures

The Longest Journey is one of the best adventure games ever. It has such a great story, along with great puzzles, dialogue, character... Read the review »

Posted by Lucien21 on May 27, 2012

Longest Journey is a talky bitch

Longest Journey is a talky bitch, but fortunately the story has depth, excitement, adventure and talking birds to keep you enthralled and... Read the review »

Posted by opalma on May 20, 2012

Would love a remake of this awesome game

If a remake of this game with HDbackgrounds and remade meshes and textures for all characters would be made. The longest journey would be... Read the review »



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Comments

Vicious942
Dec 24, 2008

I loved every minute of playing this game! The wonderful way it pulls you in and gives you addiction to its story. Anyone who loves adventure gaming and even games worth your time and money, LOOK TO THIS GAME!

Vicious

booB
Jun 17, 2009

The interactivity takes a severe dropoff in the last few chapters, but the immersive story more than makes up for it.  Best game I’ve ever played in the genre, and best dialogue in any game ever made.  I felt like I was playing a Joss Whedon TV show—any Buffy/Firefly fans in the house?

Ursulla
Apr 7, 2010

It took me the longest time to play the longest Journey…At this phase of my life I find the point & click gameplay quie pointless…
Following the demise of Sierra & Lucas Arts Empires,a few survivors has been spotted walking over the smoking ruins of their precious Empires…Now that there was nothing to point & click on, their life seem pointless…
Out of the ashes of those Empires has risen the Phenoix of Adventures Genre…. It was April Ryan who carried the torch of hope of this genre…
It was eleven years ago…This game is really flawless but I couldn’t pass up that sneaky feeling that this kind of gameplay one day would become less and less atractive….much as a couple growing old together seem less and less atractive to one another by each day…

My final verdict : The longest journey carries the torch of hope for point & click adventures around the world…but honestly how many games can reach that kind of perfection ??
I guess when the generation which admired that style of gameplay will be gone with the wind would be the right time for a change…
My final score : 90

Entropy
Aug 7, 2010

One of the best games I have ever played. The storyline drew me in completely.

Sure the graphics are not that great anymore, but I still love this game a lot and I still re-play it from time to time… it’s like re-reading a book you enjoyed a lot.

—-

I must disagree with Ursulla on the last part. Adventure games are on a revival, it seems and I am sure there will be many other great adventure games in the future, even if there will be many horrid games as well

Also the past is not all roses as well:
in the high prime of adventure games (mid-late 90’s) there existed also a lot of awfiul adventure games. For every ‘Monkey Island’ or ‘Grim Fandango’ or ‘Day of the Tentacle’ there were ten horrid adventure games….

This is true, by the way, for every game genre…

ninafay
Dec 11, 2011

My FAVORITE game of ALL TIME!!! A definite must for fans of the point-and-click adventure game genre.
The story is deeply interesting, and the worlds (plural!) are richly detailed. Whether you´re more a fan of cities of advanced technology and mean streets, or an avid reader of fairy tales and fantasy plots, you will appreciate the thought that went into each part of this wide-ranging story.
The main character is instantly likable and the conversations feel authentic and are often witty. I loved that the game allows you to choose how you want to respond in a conversation, unlike so many other games that content themselves with giving you a “nice” or “naughty” button.
The only complaint I could have had was that it ended too soon (as in, AT ALL).

goitalone
Dec 12, 2011

Wonderful game and story even to this day. Just hope before I die they will bring us Dreamfall Chapters.

Hurry up Ragnar!!!

UK_John
Jun 30, 2012

This site needs to do an article about the first Longest Journey versus the second.Never mind the move to third person 3D with action that Dreamfall brought to the game, but what about the fact that Dreamfall was the first follow up not to have the same main character?

Can you imagine Tomb Raider 2 with Lara Croft not in the lead? Or Half Life 2 without Gordon Freeman? Or Mass Effect 2 with no Shepherd?

Was it precisely because Tornquist was a screenwriter that while TLJ was brilliant because of that, Dreamfall went with story over commercialism? Tornquist could have written any follow-up story he wanted. Another story with April as the lead would have been much more of a success, in my opinion, in the same way as NOT doing it caused Dreamfall to be a commercial failure?

Entropy
Dec 13, 2012

“Can you imagine Tomb Raider 2 with Lara Croft not in the lead? Or Half Life 2 without Gordon Freeman? Or Mass Effect 2 with no Shepherd?”

Actually… yes, why not?

Do we always have to please the fans and make bad games by overusing the same characters over and over again?

Sometimes sequels with the same main character work, sometimes the do not. Sometimes a different character in the lead is a good idea.

The way April was in Dreamfall… she did NOT make a good character as she did in TLJ… her character was so… rushed, unpolished.

I loved Zoe in Dreamfall… What I disliked in Dreamfall is that it tried too much with 3 lead characters (but in the end only Zoe came out all right), the muddled storyline (that sometimes did not feel right with the first game) and the cliffhanger ending to a TLJ 3 that will never see the light of day (probably).

For example Kian role in the game is… irrelevant… I guess Ragnar was setting us up for the 3rd game (or maybe he intended a huger game but ran out of funds)... yet… he would have been better as an NPC in a cutscene.
The same goes for April, the way she was in Dreamfall at least.

I think both Zoe and April are fine girls (not just due to their physique) and good main characters.

I like TLJ1 April the best, but mainly because she is what most adventure characters are not: she is fragile like a normal girl… she is weak yet she has also strenght and talent. Her ‘personal issues’ are well built into her character.

Zoe is also like that… but she’s a person with a brighter life. April was the lonely country girl in the big dystopian city… had not to fall in love with a character like that!

Yet Zoe is a great character and I love her too (she has to follow in April’s shadow and inspite of such huge responsibility she does very well!)

Dreamfall April… well… not sure about her. I am not against the idea of making her jaded and a warrior after 10 years following TLJ… but I think she was not characterized to well.

If Dreamfall had a more coherent story, a decent ending and avoided having Kian and April in a shallow role… if would have been on par with the first TLJ.

Conclusion: although April is my all time favorite, I think Zoe deserved her chance to shine and did very well, inspite some gripes Dreamfall had.

==================

““The Bad: Nothing lasts forever?”“

Sorry… but I think TLJ lasts forever!!!!!!!

Ok the graphics are outdated… so what? It’s 2012, 10 years later (and 2 years since my first comment here)... and I still ADORE this game.

I still replay it even if I know it by heart by now.


———

“Wonderful game and story even to this day. Just hope before I die they will bring us Dreamfall Chapters.

Hurry up Ragnar!!!

I say that everyday… but Ragnar has forgottend about TLJ it seems…

As it is I just consider TLJ a story that concludes itself… and Dreamfall… I try to forget about the ending of that game (which I still like mind you)... it makes life a bit easier knowing the story set up in Dreamfall will probably never be finished Frown

Zyphr
Mar 1, 2014

One of the most cryptic-puzzle games I’ve ever played.  Loved the sequel, though.



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