Nearly two years ago, or longer if you're a PC gamer, we were introduced to the world and characters of The Journey Down [$4.99], a point and click/tap adventure game from developer SkyGoblin. It was a mechanically sound example of the genre with charm to spare, but it definitely suffered from the usual chapter one problem of doing a whole lot of setting up and not much paying off. If you played it, chances are good that you fell in love with its jazzy, dark atmosphere and lovable protagonist, Bwana. Chances are also good that after finishing the game's two and a half hour adventure, you went looking for a magic lamp to wish up the next chapter. It's been a bit of a wait, but The Journey Down: Chapter Two [$6.99] is finally here, and it's an excellent continuation of the story.

When we last left Bwana, he was demonstrating his amazing piloting skills to his client, the lovely Lina, as they took off in search of the fabled Underland. We pick up soon after his landing, with everyone mostly intact, rescued by the crew of a mister ship. Soon, our group finds themselves in the seedy town of Port Artue, separated and on the wrong side of the law. It's up to Bwana to get him and Kito out of the mess they're in, reunite with Lina, and continue on their expedition to find out what happened to his father figure, Captain Kaonandodo. The story covered in this chapter feels a lot more satisfying and full, not least of which is owed to the length of this chapter being just about double the first chapter, or around five hours. A lot of things happen this time around, though with a promised third chapter to close out the trilogy, the biggest questions remain unanswered. At the very least, you're not spending most of the chapter just fixing a plane.

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As before, you're looking at a pretty orthodox adventure game in the latter-day Lucasarts style. The style of the game is unlike almost anything else. All of the characters cleverly have African-style masks for faces, which gives them a very unique look and also lets the artists get away with a bit less animation. The cast is even bigger than the first game, with lots of weird and memorable characters to interact with. Most of the game takes place in very dark, almost noir-like areas, but the game does play with your expectations a bit over the course of the chapter. As in the first chapter, every line in the game is voiced quite capably, and the game's soundtrack is just fantastic. Work of this caliber coming from such a small team is almost shocking, and it's easy to see why it took so long to develop.

The unique presentation is the main way the game differentiates itself from other adventure games. In other respects, it more or less walks the line, but it does so very competently. You can bring up nearby hotspots just by holding your finger on the screen, items are easily used by opening your inventory and dragging them onto whatever you want to use them on, and Bwana will go anywhere you tap your finger. The puzzles are generally pretty logical for a game in this genre, and the game is pretty good about limiting your options just enough to keep things from getting too complicated. In Lucasarts style, you can't get yourself into any unwinnable situations and you can't die, so there's no risk in trying whatever crazy things you want. The only time I ran into trouble was when I had difficulty spotting an exit on a particularly dark background. I could have easily spotted it if I had dragged my finger around the screen, but it looked completely dark, so I didn't bother trying. After that little snag, things generally went smoothly for the rest of the game. The game's climactic puzzle is a pretty good head-scratcher, and it was pretty enjoyable piecing it all together.

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I feel that the heart of the game is in its strong core cast of characters. Bwana is a wonderful hero, a little bit naive, but eternally optimistic, and his brother Kito is even more so. I really like these guys, and I want to see them win. Bwana's innocent nature and his sense of wonder at almost anything helps cover up the fact that he's explaining a lot of things out loud to the player. I do wish there were more scenes with Kito, but perhaps moderation is to his benefit. He really is completely unflappable, and I love it. I'm not so sold on Lina, but if nothing else, she tends to bring a sobering dose of reality to the often cloud-bound Bwana.

The villains are solid enough, but they don't leave quite as strong of a mark as our hero does. That's fine, of course, it's just that when a game reminds you so much of a Lucasarts adventure, you start expecting all of their staples to appear, and one of those things is a big, scenery-chomping villain. I've already mentioned the great side characters, but I'm going to bring them up again, because they're worth it. Even though their parts are generally very small, just about every character you run into has some kind of quirk that virtually guarantees you'll remember them. That's not an easy thing to do properly.

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As long as you're okay with the genre, there isn't much to complain about in The Journey Down: Chapter Two. The pace slows down a little bit too much in certain sections, and there are a couple of puzzles where you basically have to brute force them, but when I find an adventure game that doesn't suffer similarly, I'll come back and admonish this game more for it. The length is great, both the amount and variety of puzzles are superb, the presentation is stunning, the characters are charming, and the story is compelling. The only grievous complaint I can levy against it is that we have to wait again for a while to get the ending of the story. If the third chapter keeps up the quality found here, the whole game stitched together will likely be one of the best traditional adventure games of the last decade or more. Don't let it slip by you.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Maglor

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       \(´∀`) It's ☆☆☆☆☆ Stars
        > ⌒ヽ
       /   へ\
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       レ ノ   ヽ_つ
      / /
      / /|
     ( (ヽ
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     | 丿 \ ⌒)
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    • PallaZ

      Will this random shit ever stop?

      (Insert stupid cat here)


  • worldcitizen1919

    I finished chapter 1 (no hints or googling) and bought chapter 2 and played about an hour of it and love it. Glad it got 5/5. Deliberately avoided reading the complete review to avoid any possible spoilers. A great adventure story.

  • Tyler Lundberg

    Such a good game. Worth 5 bucks easy. Im soooooo happy point and click adventure game are coming back. I missed them so much. This game brings me back to the time i was playing "sam & max" on dos.

    • dancj

      "Coming back"????

      They never went anywhere.

      • Tyler Lundberg

        They were completely dead for like 10 years!

      • Cloblolly

        Yeah... that didn't happen. To take just one example from each year:

        1997 The Last Express
        1998 Grim Fandango
        1999 Blade Runner
        2000 The Longest Journey
        2001 Shadow of Destiny
        2002 Syberia
        2003 Runaway
        2004 Return to Mysterious Island
        2005 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
        2006 Dreamfall
        2007 Hotel Dusk: Room 215
        2008 Sam & Max: Beyond Time & Space
        2009 Machinarium
        2010 Heavy Rain
        2011 The Book of Unwritten Tales
        2012 Resonance
        2013 Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

        (A few of these aren't point-and-click, since I tried to go for variety when making the list and excluding e.g. Grim Fandango on a technicality seems stupid, but you could easily find P&C substitutes.)

      • Geert Docter

        Broken Age, Fester Mudd, Hector, new Broken Sword chapters...

      • Thaurin

        Deponia, The Whispered World, The Walking Dead, Tales of Monkey Island, Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect, SpaceVenture, The Dark Eye, Edna & Harvey, Yesterday, Kaptain Brawe.

        Sorry, I thought we were playing a game. 😀 But I get the Tyler's point, it used to be a more popular genre in the '90s.

      • Cloblolly

        Perhaps, but the games didn't go away. Some people just stopped paying attention.

      • Thaurin

        True enough. But it did happen for some sub-genres of adventure games. FMV adventures pretty much got extinct (Tesla Effect brought it back! :D) and for the most part the 360 degree panorama adventures (like The Journeyman Project, Myst and Zork type games).

  • JJE McManus

    Top shell point and click. Superb characters and setting. Far lighter in tone than Walking dead but just as satisfying.

  • octopus

    I’m glad that this game gets the attention it needs. It totally deserves five stars and I’m really happy that you can see through the little flaws it has.
    It might be a little too simple in terms of puzzles at times (at least it’s logical) but I really love the huge amount of love and SOUL “SkyGoblin” put into it.

    Playing the second chapter was really like meeting with some good old friends. I thought that it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship when I played the very first free version, which featured 2D pixel graphics. And I was true. Looking forward for the ending.

    I think this is the game that you should try no matter what, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of adventure games or not. This game is interdimensional.

    A moment of silence for Simon D’souza, the composer. His friend had to take over and did a magnificent job. The music is great.

  • Cloblolly

    Nice one! I thought the first episode was already pretty great, but more Journey Down can only ever be a good thing!

  • Geert Docter

    I've played it in about 5 hours and I totally loved it. When Broken Age had taken me 5 hours, that felt like a small adventure that was also too easy.

    But Journey Down is not particularly difficult.

    The great thing about it is that it's so *dense*. More puzzles, more characters, and more story movement, so in the end there is more satisfaction and cleverness per click, per location and also per 15 minutes of playing.

    The love and thought they have put into this is incredible.

  • Pheebers

    Can you toggle the music off in the second chapter? I found it really annoying that I couldn't in the first one, and it's a testament to how great the game was otherwise that I persevered. I just really hate loud background music.

    • Cloblolly

      Yes, you can. From the main menu, choose 'Settings' and turn the music volume down to 0. It doesn't affect cut-scenes, though.

      Actually, this was how it worked in Chapter 1 as well, so I'm not sure why you couldn't figure it out. Maybe because to access the main menu in-game you have to choose "Quit", which actually only exits to menu, from which you can return to the game by choosing Continue.

      • Pheebers

        Thanks for the response. I went to the options menu, where the only option was to toggle subtitles, but never thought to quit because I played in one sitting.

        Please try not to condemn someone for expecting sound control to be under options, okay? I do think the game was great and am buying chapter two.

The Journey Down: Chapter Two Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 5