Last week I mentioned that Return to Mysterious Island was my second favorite adventure game and it only seems right to share some thoughts on the one that gets top billing in my book. In 2005, just one year after their last success, Kheops Studio released Voyage. The game sported fairly unexciting cover art on the box, but it was no leap to see what this story was aiming for. It captured my imagination immediately and having loved their previous game, it was only logical that I’d pick this one up. The box claimed to be based on Jules Verne again, but I found more in common with Wells’ The First Men in the Moon. That did nothing to detract from my enjoyment, however, I was just a bit perplexed by the statement. The fact is, I’m a bigger fan of Wells than Verne, though both are worth reading. From the main character, Michel Ardan, who reminded me instantly of the First Doctor with his pants and cravat, to the rocket being shot out of a huge gun, I was lured into this world. Like its predecessor, it’s a point and click adventure with 360 rotation for looking around but it was the aesthetic that really won me over.
There are a few things I really like when it comes to visuals. I grew up on Hammer Horror Movies. What do we all remember of those? Crushed velvet! There’s something very late 1800s to the style and artwork with crushed velvet covering chairs and even the drinks cabinet which is, obviously, part of the rocket you start in. The game leans heavily on a steampunk aesthetic making it a visual treat. Also it’s a surprisingly colorful game which makes it enjoyable to most ages, I would think. The non-violent nature of the story is also easy for most ages, though it does get a T (teen) rating. There are areas of the moon that have the most amazing plant life too which is fun to explore. By today’s standards, the graphics are dated but that’s to be expected from a 15 year old game; graphics update at an amazing speed! Still that hardly should impede the enjoyment! There’s also some music in it that conjures memories of my childhood watching Jack Horkheimer’s Star Gazers. Knock that all you like, it’s certainly apt. (If you don’t know who that is, look him up on Youtube!)
Like Return to Mysterious Island the game gives the player an inventory management system that allows you to combine things to create new items to help solve the variety of puzzles. This worked just as well in the other game but it’s also the one thing that lead me to a walkthrough. Yes, it’s true, the game I liked the most did require a walkthrough but I don’t feel badly about that. See, there was a moment you need to combine items to make a color wheel. I had created one. I epically failed to realize that I needed to do that twice. That was the only reason I needed the walkthrough though and that still makes me happy because 99% of all Adventure games lead me to a walkthrough for far more puzzles than one little oversight! To need one for only one puzzle is a victory, believe me! Even with deciphering an alien language (which I confess, I may be overemphasizing slightly) just requires a bit of logic, although it was a moment I was especially excited about when I did it!
As a big Scifi fan, the aliens were a treat. The Selenites were a race I first encountered in a 1964 movie version of The First Men in the Moon. I’m reasonably certain I read the book, but I tend to be a visual person and I remember things better once I see them. That movie also captivated my imagination but it was enough of a B-movie that I never expected to see them again in any other medium. While they are a bit different in the game, there was a sense that I recognized them and I really liked that they acknowledged intelligence too. Their attitude towards Michel Ardan changes as the game progresses.
I usually take a moment to mention “bang-for-buck”. The game sells on Steam for $5 and you can expect to get between 10-15 hours out of it. Certainly a worthy price. What is also noteworthy of the last few games we’ve looked at in the Junkyard is the absence of any real violence. Oh there’s a few dead bodies to start this game off, but as your memory returns, you learn the cause and we’re not dealing with vicious murderers here. The idea is not unusual for the adventure game genre as the games are based largely on puzzle solving. That doesn’t mean they are all relaxed either. Sherlock Holmes, for instance, has a series of adventure games that do deal with murder, as one might expect from the great detective. Sometimes it’s just backstory for an Adventure Game, but if you’re trying to avoid violence in video games, you have a better chance of doing so with an adventure game than nearly any other genre. We’ll get back to that in greater detail soon. In the meantime, if you want a good story to go with it, and an exciting, imaginative adventure, get in that rocket with Michel Ardan and enjoy the Voyage.
Check out the trailer below. ML