The Long Journey Home – PAX East 2017
Venture Through the Galaxy in The Long Journey Home
Mass Effect Andromeda might be taking most of the sci-fi spotlight, but it’s not the only space odyssey releasing this spring. Daedalic Entertainment’s The Long Journey Home places you in command of a small crew of astronauts. When the ship’s hyperdrive malfunctions, your crew finds itself on the other edge of the galaxy. Negotiate, trade, and fight your way through star systems filled with alien cultures. How will you find your way home?
Perhaps the first thing you’ll note about The Long Journey Home is its commitment to physics. Your ship adheres to laws of gravity and propulsion, and it doesn’t have a limitless supply of fuel either. When you approach a planet or star, you’ll need to align yourself with it to break into its orbit. You can also use orbit to help slingshot yourself around the system, using kinetic energy rather than expending your own. Keep in mind that almost every move your ship makes will burn fuel, and you’ll only get more by scavenging wreckages, bartering with trade ships, or collecting it along the surfaces of stars. While you might not need to skim through your high school physics textbook, you better (re)learn the of motion fast; the void of space can be very unforgiving, so make every resource count!
If half of The Long Journey Home is about exploring the galaxy, the other half is about encountering the aliens within it. The game features fifteen different alien cultures, each with their own unique anatomy, beliefs, and social structures. You’ll encounter noble and peace-loving races, along with cruel and battle-hungry slavers. How you interact with these cultures will create consequences later on; some cultures are mortal enemies, so by befriending one, you’ll be alienating another. Tread carefully!
Due to the structure of each star system, your crew must take sides in this galactic struggle. Each system features at least two “gateways” to the neighboring clusters, and an alien civilization controls every one of them. In order to pass through these gateways, you’ll need to prove yourself to the aliens controlling it. Sometimes you’ll only need to pay a toll, but other times you’ll need to complete certain side quests or attack an enemy vessel. Some of these choices will change your crew’s moral standing, like working with slavers or hunting down pirates. Humans have never traveled this far into space, but by the time your crew reaches Earth, the entire galaxy will know what humanity stands for.
You’ll quickly learn that the “long” part of the title is quite appropriate; you can spend months on this game! Each adventure is procedurally generated by a “seed code,” much like maps in Minecraft. If you want to repeat a specific map, just punch in the same code at the start of the new game. Some of the variations include funny Easter Eggs to uncover; Stack-Up played a map that led us to an infamous space brothel. The demo spared us the graphic details, but the astronaut who volunteered to “give it a go” came back with a concussion!
The Long Journey Home shows some exceptional promise, but its largest fault may be the timing of its release. While the gameplay is very different, the game shares so many themes with Mass Effect Andromeda that most gamers might overlook it. Indie games seldom outshine AAA titles, but that dynamic only strengthens when two “similar” games launch around the same time. Sadly, while The Long Journey Home might be a delightful exploration/survival game, Daedalic Entertainment may not collect much fruit from their labor. With luck, fans might spread the word enough to get this game the attention it deserves.
The Long Journey Home releases on Steam later this spring, and onto consoles this autumn.