2018 has been a big year for fans of roguelikes. Both Moonlighter and Dead Cells will more than likely grace my top ten list this year. When The Long Journey Home promised a combination of a roguelike with a solid roleplaying game, I was immediately intrigued. The game is very ambitious, but is made for a very specific personality of gamer. Even though that person isn’t me, it’s worth taking a look. Especially if you have the patience and perseverance to see this story through to its conclusion.
As the title suggests, the story revolves around returning home. Humanity’s attempt at using its jump drive for the first time goes horribly wrong. Your chosen crew is stranded on the other side of the galaxy. Your goal is figure out a way back by harvesting necessary resources, conversing with alien races, and keeping your ship intact. All of this takes place in a procedurally-generated universe, providing a unique experience for each “run”.
While this setup sounds incredible, the execution missed the mark for me. The gameplay consists mostly of physics-based, methodical action. In open space, you’ll navigate your ship from planet to planet with your thrusters. This includes a gravitational mechanic where you’ll need to enter a planet’s orbit in order to successfully enter its atmosphere. Once on a planet, the perspective changes from isometric to 2-D. Here you must navigate a shuttle using your thrusters against the gravitational pull of the planet. Your goal is to land on resources to harvest them, or dock with a settlement to take a diplomatic approach.
Unfortunately, this gameplay feels more like frustrating mini-games than the satisfying roguelike experience I hoped for. Each mission felt more like a chore to me, and I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment from much of anything. There’s also an incredibly dense menu system for ship repairs and inventory management. You use this system to manage your chosen crew’s abilities, which vary depending on whom you chose. Sadly, none of this is particularly fun or engaging.
The Long Journey Home Final Verdict
On paper, The Long Journey Home sounds very promising. I really wanted to enjoy it, but I found myself more frustrated than anything else. With that said, I feel there is a subset of gamers who will find this game very enjoyable. Not everyone is looking for the same roguelike experience I am. Fans of methodical storytelling with a challenge should find some fun here. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game for me; but that doesn’t mean it’s not a game for you. Hopefully your journey is more pleasant than mine.