Voyage Xbox Review
For me, one of the greatest achievements of modern-day video game digital distribution is that anybody can make a game and get it out into the world to be enjoyed by people. Voyage is the perfect example of what can happen when talented people with good ideas are given that opportunity.
Voyage is the debut game (ported over from PC - review here!) from Venturous Studios, a Swedish indie dev team of two brothers who, along with highly talented composer Calum Bowen, have created the game single- (or should that be triple-?) handedly.
The game doesn’t have much in the way of a story. You play as two survivors in a mysterious, decaying world. It’s your job to escape, and along the way hopefully find some answers to what happened. The game is rather open-ended in this respect. There is no dialogue or exposition in the game at all. It’s really up to the player to decipher the environment they are passing through however they see fit. To me, it seems like some kind of disaster happened on the planet and you are exploring the aftermath… but I could be completely wrong!
The best way to describe Voyage is as a 2D walking simulator. Although you need to solve some basic puzzles to proceed on your journey, they don’t offer any challenge for anyone with even a basic level of gaming experience and almost exclusively involve pushing, pulling or pressing objects to continue your journey. Like most walking sims, the best way to play Voyage is to switch off and just enjoy the scenery while you go where the game takes you.
But that’s by no means a bad thing. The hand-drawn game world is gorgeous to look at and it’s obvious to see the sheer amount of love and attention that has been put into it by the creators. The aesthetic of the game seems heavily inspired by early Miyazaki works like Nausicaa and Laputa: a world that's just similar enough to Earth to be recognisable, yet full of strange fantasy elements. Along the way, you’ll pass through decaying forests, grassy plains, deep caves and much more as you try to find a way home. Each area looks beautiful and sounds amazing thanks to the stunning soundtrack and sound design.
The game itself only takes about two hours to complete but that’s more than enough. One downside of walking simulators is that they have to be very careful not to become tedious. Voyage on the whole avoids this by including a varied gameworld and interactive scenery, but it does sometimes feel like the game has been purposefully stretched out to increase the game length. Long sequences of dragging items, or being forced to slowly backtrack can start to become tiresome, but the promise of something interesting around the corner is enough to keep you playing.
The concept of video games as an art form has been debated for decades, but I think Voyage is a perfect example of where the lines blur. There are moments in the game when it genuinely feels like you’re controlling characters in an animated movie rather than actually playing a game. Titles like this are why I love video games and I promise you that it’s worth a couple of hours of your time.
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