By Chris Picone, 28 June 2023
A Long Journey to an Uncertain end is, predominantly, a visual novel, albeit one with survival managementand RPG elements. "Electic" is the word of the day with this title. You play as a sentient spaceship trying to find freedom while running from your abusive ex (yes, seriously). As a spaceship you really need some human help to get things done, and of course birds of a feather flock together, so your crew are equally bizarre.
While there are dialogue cutscenes throughout the game that are similar in style to your classic Ren'Py-style visual novel, A Long Journey primarily uses a comic-book aesthetic. My favourite scenes have to be the lovely and evocative backdrops at every starport you visit. I found they really set the scene for the interactions that would take place there when your characters were out and about on jobs (or running into trouble).
As I already mentioned, Long Journey is predominantly a visual novel and that's how it plays out; there are short dialogue cutscenes where you're offered a few choices but they're mostly informative rather than consequential. When you arrive at a space station, you need to send your crew out to complete missions. There's a little decision-making here as you choose which crew to send on which mission, and then a little more during the mission itself. These are conducted in standard RPG dialogue fashion, where you're presented with problems and a range of skill-based solutions (the availability of which depends on the characters tasked to that mission). But it's all fairly obvious and they've included some handholding symbols so it's usually pretty obvious who you need to take with you (send the engineer on the technical mission, the smooth talker on the radio announcer mission). The goal of these missions is of course to secure food supplies and fuel. You also need to manage crew morale (turns out they don't like being overworked and occasionally need R&R. Humans, right?). The best part of the game is the added pressure of needing to flee from your ex; spending longer in one place may yield more resources, but at the cost of precious time, so you're always trying to get the biggest bang for your buck and then you're off to the next planet.
Long Journey's easy-going and light-hearted, a nice way to chill at the end of the night. I did find it a little linear but if you go in thinking of it as a visual novel, that's not really a problem. Ultimately, the characters are likeable, the story engaging, and I enjoyed the addition of the survival and roleplaying elements, I think they are a nice way to add a little interactivity to the genre. There's around 4 hours of gameplay here; if you're curious, it's worth the jaunt.