Pack a lunch, grab a sweater, and buckle up, adventure fans. We’re going time travelling, courtesy of Presto Studios.
Flash forward: Year 2308
Mankind is finally at peace after pushing itself to the brink of destruction. This worldwide harmony has allowed growth, research, and exploration on an unprecedented scale. With cities in the sky and colonies on other planets, Earth is visited by an alien race called the Cyrollans, who extend an offer to join an alliance called the Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings. As this is such a significant decision, they leave with the promise to return for our answer in ten years.
In the ensuing decade, the mystery of time itself is overcome, and the world's first time travel machine is built. Although created with noble intent, the potential to abuse time travel for destructive purposes is recognized, so an elite protection unit is created to safeguard history. Never has this been more important than on the day of the Cyrollans' return, as the key to the future lies in securing the past.
Dial back: Year 1992
Before there was Myst (so don’t call it a clone), a rookie team of developers seeks to create "The World's First Photorealistic Adventure Game!" based on the premise above, and The Journeyman Project is born...
Okay, so I'm mixing not only past and future, but fantasy and reality. It's hard to avoid, though, as playing this futuristic sci-fi adventure today involves an understanding and acceptance of its historical development. So many things we take for granted in today's adventures were still in their infancy at that time. It'd be easy to write the game off now for its obvious limitations, but not only was this game pushing boundaries in its day, it went on to spawn two sequels to form a trilogy that has become something of a cult classic.
You won’t need to brush up on your Einstein or Hawking to follow Presto’s tale. If you've ever read the likes of Bradbury, Asimov, or Wells, you'll find no surprises in The Journeyman Project. Heck, even watching Star Trek, Back to the Future, or Terminator would serve just as well as an introduction to time travel. Chances are, everyone's had enough exposure to the space-time continuum, paradoxes, and temporal rips to feel at ease here.
The Journeyman Project is a first-person, node movement adventure that puts the player in control of Agent 5 of the Temporal Security Annex (TSA), the force assigned to protect Earth's past. As the game begins, the Cyrollan delegate is due to arrive for Earth's acceptance to their earlier invitation. Not everyone agrees with the decision, however, and no sooner have you leisurely familiarized yourself with the gameplay mechanics and reported Agent 5 to work, than crisis hits. Somehow, a dissenter has found a way to distort history in three different time periods, each of which will prevent the Cyrollans from ever extending the offer. It's Agent 5’s job, therefore, to travel back in time (though still in OUR future), prevent the distortions before they occur, and return to eliminate the source of the threat.
The first thing you'll invariably notice about the game is its tiny viewscreen. Being generous, it covers no more than a third of the screen. In fact, the complex interface takes up almost the same amount of room. This interface, which is explained as a projection from a TSA eye monocle, contains the inventory, information windows, movement icons, and special biotech chips which need to be collected and utilized throughout the game. While this may seem cumbersome and unintuitive at first, it's actually quite stylish, and the game even provides a narrated interface overview from the main menu. Unfortunately, the one feature that definitely should have been streamlined is the save and restore menu, which you'll wind up using fairly often; more on that in a moment.
The graphics themselves are no eye candy, but no eyesore, either. Presented in fixed 640x480 resolution with 256 colours, they fall significantly short of being photorealistic, but are nicely rendered, and still adequate despite their age. The hi-tech environments are fairly simple, but serviceable. Various animations help to bring the gameworld alive somewhat, but it's still a lonely journey. You won't meet any people in your travels, outside of pre-recorded video clips, so your only company will be periodic robot encounters. One of the game's strengths, however, is its degree of interactivity. Whether it's holograms you can switch on and off, or redundant elevator buttons with programmed responses, The Journeyman Project invites you to explore along the way, and rewards you for experimenting.
The game's sound is consistent with the rest of the production values. Sound effects are basic, but liberally used and effective, and the voice acting serves the plot well. The music is interspersed nicely, with dramatic moments marked by more up-tempo instrumentals, although I found some a little overbearing at times.Continued on the next page...