Good things come to those who wait, as the old saying goes, and never has a phrase been more apt. A mere two years (but who’s counting?) after Chapter 1 blew us all away, Chapter 2 of SkyGoblin’s fantastic point-and-click adventure game ‘The Journey Down’ is now available on desktop and iOS – and it’s certainly living up to its predecessor.
When we last saw our protagonist, Bwana, he, his brother Kito and their client-cum-friend Lina were nose-diving rather alarmingly over The Edge in the plane we spent the majority of Chapter 1 repairing. Hot on their heels were hired thugs determined to steal the Journal of the Underland, a book once owned by Bwana’s adopted father Kaonandodo and now in the hot little hands of our intrepid trio.
Chapter 2 picks up in the immediate aftermath of this plunge. Our heroes have been netted by a trawler, plane and all, saving them from their fall – but that’s where their good luck ends. The lighthouse the sailors use to guide their way through the mist has gone out and they have no way of navigating back to port. It’s up to Bwana to come up with a solution and help everyone get back to the fog-shrouded streets of Port Artue where they can continue their journey. But with a welcoming party consisting of the local Chief of Police and his constabulary there to greet them, it seems Bwana’s problems have only just begun…
As the second installment what will eventually be a trilogy, Chapter 2 faces the task of not only living up to its predecessor but making itself memorable in its own right as well – and just as a sequel cannot escape comparison to its original, Chapter 2 will inevitably be judged by the standards set by the Chapter 1.
Luckily, it not only holds its own in this regard, it sometimes surpasses it: lush, detailed artwork and a rich musical score gives the game a distinct noir ambience that leaves it looking and sounding absolutely stunning. The user interface remains unchanged from the first chapter, making navigation via finger swipes and touches as simple and intuitive as it ever was.
The story features the same witty humour and tight writing as Chapter 1 but moves at a quicker pace, making room for more story progression, though not at the expense of gameplay. Both the puzzles and characters of Port Artue are many and varied and the voice acting is a marked step up from the sometimes amateur sounding efforts of Chapter 1.
However, the game does suffer from a few flaws – whilst the puzzles are definitely on par with Chapter 1, Chapter 2 feels as though it holds your hand a bit more when it comes time to solve them. Where the first chapter used various clever workarounds to stop Bwana from picking up items or having conversations before they became relevant, Chapter 2 doesn’t feature this as heavily, leading to Bwana solving a few puzzles or interacting with characters and items before their purpose had really become clear in the game progression.
Similarly, whilst the artwork is beautiful, creating detailed, evocative scenes you’ll wish you could step into, some of the animation is a little more subpar. Characters’ mouths are often out of sync with their dialogue and their movements through their lush environments are sometimes clumsy. There are also some audio problems that need ironing out, such as occasional skipping and varying sound levels.
Despite these minor flaws, though, it is clear The Journey Down is well on its way to becoming a modern classic in its genre. Whether or not point-and-click adventure games are your “thing”, there is something here to be enjoyed and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the final installment – let’s just hope it’s not another two years away…
You’ll find The Journey Down – Chapter 2 at http://www.thejourneydown.com/
Disclosure: A review copy of The Journey Down – Chapter 2 for Steam was provided to us by the developers of the game; however, due to technical difficulties, we purchased and played through the iOS version for this review.