Old Man’s Journey is a nice, short puzzle game that is perfect for spending an afternoon with. You can easily pick this up for less than $10 USD on the Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and most mobile and computing devices. And for that price it’s well worth it.
Players control the eponymous Old Man who lives alone in a house by the sea. One day, he receives a letter, and immediately sets off on an adventure across the country. As the audience, we aren’t sure what this letter entails, only that it’s gravely important to our adventurer, and thus we must guide him to his goal to learn its contents.
Old Man’s Journey is the epitome of “games as art” in that the challenge isn’t very hard, but its visual style and storytelling is engaging and delightful. The visuals make me think of watercolor paintings come to life, and are truly beautiful. It has a kind of vintage feel to it, giving a sense of warmth even when depicting a horrendous thunderstorm. The story is presented in a charming way, with the plot moving forward with contextual clues rather than dialogue. These are attributes that make the game accessible for players of all ages and backgrounds. It kind of reminds me of 1982’s The Snowman or similar films that transport you momentarily to a touching world on a simple yet memorable adventure.
The game controls like a classic point-and-click from the early nineties. Players simply point where they want the Old Man to go, and he will wander in that direction. Gamers can also interact with the environment, such as opening and closing some doors, ringing bells, and other such things but these rarely are necessary for moving forward.
What is necessary is connecting the paths to get the Old Man from point A to point B. The road that the Old Man travels on is broken up into numerous planes, and thus the player must raise and lower these planes so that the paths connect and the Old Man can proceed. The catch is if the Old Man is standing on a plane you cannot move it, so it is necessary for him to backtrack or take a short side road so that the player can construct a path that can be properly navigated. Having the Old Man stand on someone’s roof for instance while I sculpted the road ahead added a tremendous dash of humor and character to this pleasant tale.
Music is also a delight, shaping the tone of levels and welcoming players into the game’s world. Composed by Andrew Rohrmann, who goes by the name “scientific” (written as scntfc), the soundtrack is beautifully emotional and full of highs and lows, much like the planes in which the player must manipulate. The music takes the gamer on a journey, and the adventurer is all the more better for it.
I completed this title in a little under two hours, and couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my day. If I had to levy a complaint towards it, then I would say that it just wasn’t long or difficult enough. I understand that the game is meant to provide a relaxing journey with some light thinking thrown in, but just as when you finish with an easy read, if it’s good enough, you’ll be itching for more.
Pick this up and embark on your own travels with the Old Man. You won’t regret it.
Score: 4.5 / 5 stars.
Source for images: Old Man’s Journey.