Long Journey iOS

Long Journey : the Sainsburys meal deal of gaming

Long Journey is the minimalist story of life told through visual metaphor by a boat travelling from left to right across the screen. But is this a speed-boat across crystal clear Tunisian water? Or an iceberg, dead ahead, bound to plummet our ships to the icy depths?

Back in September 2016 the UK supermarket Sainsburys changed it’s meal deal offering and everyone lost their minds. Where as previously £2.99 would net you a robust sandwich, drink, and snack, Sainsburys downgraded it’s offering leaving many (myself included) confused and unprepared for this sudden change in their life. This is poignant for two reasons. Firstly because Long Journey also costs £2.99 on the iOS store. Secondly because like the change in the Sainsburys meal deal, Long Journey is all about telling the story of sudden changes in life.

You play as Boaty McBoatFace who you steer through the various stages of life (and by steer I mean hold down your finger on the right side of the screen). As the story progresses our boat hero meets a boat companion who joins along on the journey. Navigate correctly and you’ll even manage to drop anchor in your boat companion and craft a baby yacht.

There are points on your journey where you can make key decisions about your future journey. For example I accidentally managed to abandon my boat family in ‘family world’ and not see them again until death. It was wasn’t my fault. I was just popping out for a pack of boat cigarettes just like my real-life human-shaped boat-father.

Sadly these interactions along the story are few and far between. After a few play-throughs I only managed to find two points where the player can effect the course of their future. This is a shame as I was hoping for a brief section where our Mr.Boaty-Pants goes through his experimental sexual phase and docks with an aircraft carrier after a few too many oil slick shots.

On my tombstone, I want written: ‘He never did ‘Love Boat!’

Long Journey also represents real-life in other ways that are unintended. Similar to a mild hear-attack the frame-rate will sometimes struggle. And like my first sexual experience my phone began to heat up within seconds and the battery embarrassingly only lasted out for a few minutes.

But I am a gaming snob. I love going to cocktail parties and revealing that I’m a gamer and then asking people if they’ve played That Dragon, Cancer. Followed shortly by the host asking how I got in and why I’m shouting at people to “play Depression Quest or else!”.

So a Long Journey caught my eye by being that type of indie experimental game that I hoped would push the envelope of what the gaming medium can deliver. But the truth is that Long Journey isn’t even a unique concept given the similarities is has to Jason Roher’s excellent Passage.

Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.

Long Journey will ironically only take you around fifteen minutes to complete. It’s a pleasurable fifteen minutes for sure with some lovely carefully crafted music. It’s certainly an experience that overall is fun to play through. But with issues such as the concept not being unique, little replay value, and issues with draining down your battery it’s very hard to recommend Long Journey. And it brings me back to the £2.99 meal deal from Sainsbury’s. Long Journey is expensive at it’s current price-tag. And despite all it’s efforts Sainsbury’s changing their meal deal structure had a more profound effect on me than playing the Long Journey.

Note: Long Journey was reviewed on an Iphone 6s. Other devices may fare better,