Daedelic Entertainment’s The Long Journey Home is a little tricky to describe succinctly because it draws on a broad range of game types and inspirations—but it hopes to deliver an experience greater than the sum of its parts.
“It’s a little like a role-playing game in reverse,” Andreas Suika, Creative Director for Daedelic Entertainment Studio West explains. “Instead of becoming more powerful and facing greater challenges, you’re struggling to keep a constantly degrading ship in one piece, and keep everyone on it alive.”
“It’s a little like a role-playing game in reverse. Instead of becoming more powerful and facing greater challenges, you’re struggling to keep your constantly degrading ship in one piece, and keep everyone on it alive.” Andreas Suika, Creative Director, Daedelic Entertainment
In The Long Journey Home, you and a crew of 4 researchers are struggling to return to Earth after getting unexpectedly catapulted to the far reaches of known space. Thematically, it’s essentially the plot from Star Trek: Voyager, but with a much smaller ship and crew. You’re not in a starship; you’re in a small research with very limited cargo space and resources.
Play begins by creating a ‘seed’ – a simple word/phrase you type in that is keyed to a specific play through. Then you’ll select the ill-fated crew, and get thrown into a randomly generated cosmos with 2 simple goals: 1) Survive; and 2) Find your way home.
Your crew is selected from a variety of crew members based upon character dossiers. “We didn’t want a stat-based system so much as a system in which you’ll discover the strengths and weaknesses of the characters as you play the game,” Suika explains.
Greater than the sum of its stars
From this point The Long Journey Home becomes an interesting mashup of game mechanics. The closest examples Suika could compare it to being the PC classic Star Control and (somewhat reluctantly) Sid Meier’s Pirates!
For example, steering around the cosmos requires some basic arcade-style skills, using gravitational pulls around planets to help navigate and conserve fuel. Combat is relatively basic, consisting of somewhat Asteroids-style play while maneuvering your ship to unload weapons from your broadsides. (This part was a bit reminiscent of sailing your ship in Sid Meier’s Pirates!) While you cruise around planets and stars, your map will pinpoint areas of interest you may want to explore.
Exploring alien worlds means sending a lone crew member down to the surface in a lander, a short sequence that evokes games like Lunar Lander (with much better graphics, of course) and various mobile games built on similar mechanics.
Once exploration begins, you’re faced with a series of binary decisions—pick up the glowing alien artifact or not? Explore the ancient alien temple? You may discover resources, artifacts that can help you get home, or (I’m speculating here) maybe some innocuous, organic egg-like things…
Every decision is important, and so is every character. There are no expendable ‘red shirts’. Exploration is dangerous. More importantly, there is only one save slot and death is permanent.
There is only one save slot, and death is permanent.
“10 Quatloos on Kirk”
There are of course Aliens to encounter, and how you interact with them also presents many choices. And as you might expect not all the alien races like each other. Helping one race may mean miffing another one off. And you need all the help you can get to reach home.
Even more interesting: You won’t encounter every alien in the game in a single play through. When the cosmos is randomized for a specific seed, only a portion (around 5-6) of all available alien races are used. Multiple play-throughs can yield all-new encounters with previously un-encountered alien species.
Even communicating with aliens can be challenging, as you may need to discover and research artifacts to help you decipher their languages, which in turn can also open more avenues of conversation. All new artifacts and technology you find during your travels can be researched by crew members, which in turn can potentially open up additional quests, new technology, or new avenues of exploration.
And if all the diplomacy, research, and exploration aren’t enough, you’ll also need to manage your very limited resources. You’re not flying around in the Starship Enterprise. You’re flying around in the equivalent of an oversized minibus. (Feel free to call it Starry McStarface, or Spacey McSpaceFace.)
Your ship has limited cargo space for the various elements you can find, all of which are real-world elements. You can trade them (adding a little Elite-like game play), or use them to build/craft things to help keep your ship running.
A galaxy of possibilities
Although The Long Journey Home is full of (randomly generated) possibilities and variables, there is still a primary story line to help you focus your efforts. In order to reach Earth, you must travel through a series of mysterious star gates (all built by unknown aliens and maintained by robots) to make a jump to the next star system and get closer to home.
Overcoming various challenges to access the gates will vary, as will all of the generated in-game events and side-quests events you can pursue.
This is also where the concept of ‘a role playing game in reverse’ comes in. You don’t become more powerful or face greater challenges, arriving home in a pimped-out Super Star Destroyer. You struggle to keep what you have from falling apart.
This is also where the concept of ‘a role playing game in reverse’ comes in. You don’t become more powerful or face greater challenges, arriving home in a pimped-out Super Star Destroyer. You struggle to keep what you have from falling apart. By the time you reach Earth your ship will likely be a sputtering wreck running on sub-impulse power and probably held together with alien shoe goo and galactic duct tape. And not all of your crew may survive to see Earth again.
Should you risk that alien temple, or is someone going to bring back a nasty Xenomorph and have a fatal bout of gastric distress at dinner time? Should you rescue that endangered alien, or will you end up fighting a vaguely menacing sloth-lizard-man on a barren planet? Is that mysterious green chick really worth it? Is this alien trader giving me a fair deal for my Unobtainium, or is he screwing with me?
Find out when The Long Journey Home boldly comes to PC / Steam by the end of 2016, and slated for release on Xbox One and PS4 in 2017.