Great Journey archived preview
I recently had the privilege of playing a two-chapter preview build of Great Journey, a game appealing to the 6-12 age group developed by Rebelmind Studios, the same group behind the recent action/RPG Grom.
The demo I played had yet to be voiced in English, but the subtitles were translated decently. The pre-rendered backgrounds of Great Journey are very fanciful and reminiscent of Disney’s Toy Story and the bright, molded-plastic look that is often a signature of Mac animation, like that of Jimmy Neutron. I've never seen such a vivid color palette used so creatively in a children’s game before.
This is not the only refreshing aspect, as the premise is also a pleasant departure from the many bubblegum-for-the-brain themes parents often have to choose from. A letter arrives from Antarctica containing a plea for help in finding out who is leaving a trail of garbage all over the land. The player’s ultimate goal is to make it there in time to help your penguin friend.
The musical score is equally jovial without being annoying and very well suited to the subject matter, making it a pleasure to listen to.
After the intro, players can choose between a boy and girl as their playable character, each with their own set of “save” icons. They then select the icon of their choice (such as a car, rocket, dog, etc) that represents their particular game. When exiting out of a game, the save is automatic, and the selected icon reappears on the main menu screen the next time the game is booted up. Clicking on it takes the player right back to where they last were. This is just one example of the kind of insightful attention to detail that will no doubt contribute to making Great Journey an excellent foray into adventure for youngsters.
Consider Great Journey an adventure game with training wheels. There’s some gentle hand-holding, like the cursor turning into large feet that appear on the ground to show the direction in which you can walk (green feet to walk, blue feet to jump), hints and items that pop out of trees and other objects when clicked on (kids will receive a magnifying glass for this purpose).
Though the help this interface lends is obvious, it succeeds in avoiding undermining childish intuition by letting the player choose whether or not to use the hint system that is available. This also avoids any frustration for those taxed by attention deficit, and tasks the quick study to try and avoid using them altogether. Thus far the difficulty level seems very appropriate.
The game is said to span five chapters with more than 30 locations full of animations, “hot-spot” clue hunting, character interaction, and mini-games; everything that might appeal to the adventurous spirit inherent in all children.
Great Journey also teaches a subtle but powerful lesson in ecology and the folly of polluting the planet we live on; all while visiting areas like Africa, the Amazon, and Antarctica. I let my six-year old play the demo, and when I asked him what he thought about what he was learning, he replied: “I’m learning? No, this isn’t a learning game, it’s a fun game.”
It’s not often that an adventure game targeting youths succeeds in capturing the whimsical feel that Great Journey seems to have in spades. Hopefully, all will soon have an opportunity to enjoy the story and artistry of this game once it finds its way to our shores. From what I’ve seen so far, North American publishers should be eager to add this game to their roster.
We will keep you informed as to the progress of this promising adventure for children, and be sure to keep your eyes posted for our full-length review once Great Journey hits store shelves!