Old Man’s Journey was first released in May of last year on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Fast forward to 2018, and the Old Man extends his journey to the Nintendo Switch. The question is, is it a journey worth taking?
At the start of Old Man’s Journey, you receive a letter. You don’t get to see what the letter says, but you can tell by the Old Man’s reaction that it is important. So starts your journey. In some ways, Old Man’s Journey feels like a children’s book, with a grown up premise at the heart of it. There are 15 levels here, and all are an absolute masterclass in visuals. The game is heartbreakingly beautiful to look at, and that’s before you even get to the story. A picturesque world of elegance, there are simply not enough superlatives in the world to do justice how much of a visual treat you are in for here. On top of that, the game is complimented by some absolutely gorgeous music – imagine if Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros started a band together and you’re in the right ballpark.
But what about the gameplay? Well your sole purpose here is to help the old man along. The problem is that most hills or paths don’t align, so he can’t cross. It’s your job to move layers of the ground so that they line up and he can carry on his journey. It’s so simple, yet some environments will pose a challenge. It’s a mechanic that could get for want of a better word, old, but it never does. The game avoids this by placing you in a various array of beautiful backdrops, with subtle changes to your input. For example, you’re not always traversing landscapes by foot. Sometimes you’re traveling by car, or train. Sometimes you are underwater, or trying to move sheep. No really. And it all works. Old Man’s Journey is truly charming at every turn.
When you complete a level, the old man will sit down and have a rest, and his surroundings will trigger a memory for him, from a time earlier in his life. You’re not given a huge amount to go on. The game drip feeds you memories and you start to come up with your own conclusions as to where the story might be heading. You see somehow, Old Man’s Journey manages to be a slow burner, which is pretty remarkable considering its short running time of 2 hours. But it’s a really powerful 2 hours. And at the end of that 2 hours, I was grateful to have tagged along.
Old Man’s Journey is a beautiful experience every step of the way.
Punk rating: 9/10