“Oh Gross! It’s an old plunger… I’ll stick it in my pants.” – The Journey Down Chapter 2
Sequels have often been the bane of gamers’ existence, having to wait long periods to get the games they love. Half-Life fans know all too well the pain of waiting for new adventures of a hero they love. Somewhere along the way it was thought of to create episodic content, to give gamers more of what they like in easier to develop chunks. While Telltale Games seems to have mastered this, other companies including the mighty Valve have sometimes faltered. This brings us to SkyGoblin’s The Journey Down, a game that first released in August of 2010 and remade in 2012, all told, four long years of waiting for the 2nd chapter of the series.
This Chapter of The Journey Down begins with Bawana and the crew’s plane being dredged up by a ship called the M.S. Biko which is full of very hungry sailors. The pirates are afraid of another band of bloodthirsty pirates called the Sisulus. There are also the giant eels known to swallow ships twice the size as the one you’re on, in one gulp (eels seem to be a reoccurring theme in the series now). Gimbo is in his cabin and just really wants to go back to port but the lookout Joe, can’t see anything beyond the mist. It is of course left up to Bawana to find a way to get the ship back home because the captain is out cold after drinking a bottle of industrial grade eel rinse. You meet with Lina on the Biko and she is hell-bent on finding the Underland mentioned in the book that Bawana’s father wrote.
Police Chief Barlow is ready and waiting to arrest you for the possession of the Journal of the Journey Down as soon as you reach the port. You are of course left with no items so you have to click around hunting for a way out of your new digs. You can also kick Kito who is occupying the upper bunk for good measure. Being in the jail cell brings back old memories of being locked up for thieving back in their youth. In fact, Kito used to be so thin he could sneak through the bars. The two are chained to their beds until you can find a way to get them loose. Eventually you’ll find yourself pulling a Shawshank, finally reaching the port city of Port Artue itself.
Bawana is then stuck in the city with prison stripes and a need to hide himself from the law. You encounter what look to be two of the three stooges who are willing to sell you some clothes but you must buy them in bulk and the cost of the crate is $500 cash. On the plus side, Bawana did find some of his favorite nachos next to the shady union members Vince and Moe. After acquiring some clothes you speak to the doorman of Club Timba a ritzy place, and the doorman a mean hombre. As it turns out Lina has been taken into the Club by the police chief. Yep, it’s just another day in the life of Bawana.
The Journey Down Chapter 2 is just as strikingly gorgeous as Chapter 1. The game has a flair for capturing a very unique take on the film noir genre and features a brilliant mix of hand drawn backgrounds interlaced with 3D renders. The stylization of the Port is so well done it leaves you wishing that this was a sandbox game so you could run around exploring the locales. Animations are simple but effective, the mouth movements don’t line up exactly as they should but this may be to accommodate for other languages. Of course,the music Is just as fantastic, you may find yourself standing Bawana in place just to groove out to the tunes for a while.
Everything functions just as it did in the first chapter, point at the items that have a name and figure out what to do with them. The layout is simple, the puzzles not too hard. If you find yourself scratching your head in The Journey Down it’s more often than not because you haven’t looked around the entire area yet, not because of some ridiculous nonsensical combination of items that you were supposed to be using. This can be seen by some to make the game way to easy, but it allows the player to focus more on the story going on around you.
The Journey Down Chapter 2 is every bit as captivating as chapter 1 was.. The series is already shaping up to be a new classic in an already classic genre. Game development can be a long and arduous process but hopefully Chapter 3 doesn’t take as long to come out as The Journey Down Chapter 2.