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The Longest Journey by cirruscastle on DeviantArt

The Longest Journey by Funcom

"This is the first step of the longest journey of your life"

Synopsis
The story takes place in two worlds that exist side-by-side, Stark, dominated by technology and Arcadia, a haven for magic.

April Ryan, an art student from Stark, finds herself 'dreaming' of Arcadia, but the dreams are all too real. When her visions of the magical world begin to bleed into her ordinary life in Stark she finds herself recruited to save both worlds by restoring the Balance.

Game Style
It's a point and click adventure, so if you hate those with a passion it might be hard for you to get into. I have a lot of nostalgia for them, as I played some as a kid, but I also recognize their shortcomings. This one has several 'puzzles' that I found really difficult and ultimately cheated to complete. If you are really stuck, let me highly recommend this guide, by Alan Stock, which issues you hints and tips without a lot of spoilers.

The art style is actually pretty nice and dreamy for a fantasy game. I like the Arcadia landscapes best. It is an old game, however, so expect the people to look kind of horrific. In particular, their noodly arms never fail to weird me out.

April Ryan
April has been voted one of the best female protagonists in a video game of all time. Honestly, this is part of what drew me to the game in the first place. She doesn't disappoint, either. She is tough and ready for adventure. She has a witty tongue and a clever mind. She also has a compassionate heart (um, when she isn't pulling nasty tricks on people for the sake of the point and click plot mechanic, at least).

The rest of my commentary is behind the cut, due to spoilers.
I like the way April reacts to being dumped into an epic fantasy adventure. She's skeptical for a long time. She's reluctant. When Cortez tries to get all mystical about why she's been chosen for the quest, she basically tells him he's a creepy weirdo and she hopes he gets lost. That doesn't stop her from going back to find him when she can't deny the reality of her experiences, but it feels like a very honest response.

I also like her reaction to the idea that she will have to be the Guardian in order to restore the Balance and save both worlds. The Guardian has to stay in a tower in the Guardian's Realm to do this. At first she flat out denies that she can be the one to do this task. But by the end she has resigned herself to it. That's why it's all the more interesting when it turns out she isn't actually the Guardian and is now free to do what she wants. This must be a very difficult revelation for her to face, but since the game ends there, it's not certain how she deals with it.

Arcadia
What I like best about the game is probably Arcadia, the magical world that April enters as part of her quest.

She encounters several fantasy races while she is adventuring in Arcadia, among them, the Banda, a race of mole people who sing to earth to shape it into tunnels where they live. These are adorable. They also have a deeply spiritual side to them, which helps April in getting along on her quest. She has a vision of the dark side of herself while staying overnight in their village, and also a vision of her love-interest Charlie, who helps to give her purpose on her quest, by reminding her of why she is doing it: "That life, even when difficult and painful, is a gift. That love is priceless, and rare, and precious. That every good action, every good thought, counts."

She also meets the Maerum and the Alatien races of sea people and flying people who once lived together in harmony, but who now hold each other as enemies. April has to find proof for both groups that they once thrived when they lived close together as friends.

She helps the Stickmen and the Orlowol. The Stickmen are obviously people who are tree like and the Orlowol are giant crabs!

Humour
The game doesn't take itself seriously all the time. In particular, I thought Roper Klacks was a pretty ridiculous villain, with a castle full of trick staircases and other 'gotcha' puzzles to solve. Every time you fail at one of them his laughter rings through the castle.

In the end, (and I solved this bit all on my own, thank you), you defeat him by challenging him to a math contest and win with the aid of your calculator. Ultimately, Klacks gets sucked into the calculator. I'm not sure why, but I somehow knew that the antithesis of the mad magician had to be some kind of technology.

I also really loved the potion making puzzle in his floating castle. It doesn't get better than mixing strange substances that will allow you to float, become invisible, and blow things up.

In all, the game has really fun world-building and some amusing puzzles, with a great main character. There are also sequels, Dreamfall and Dreamfall Chapters. I have them on my wishlist, but I haven't played them yet.

April 2017

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