At the Rezzed Expo I got to try out many strange and wonderful indie games and amongst them was Journal.
Journal is the latest game from independent developer Richard Perrin, and it’s a game that, well, doesn’t really feel like a game at all. Rather, it’s an invitation into another world: in this case, the mind of a young girl.
For the sake of definition, Journal is a ‘narrative driven adventure game’, but in reality it is much more than that label suggests. The story is told via various drawings in a journal, with each page containing a different area of 2D scribbled environment. It’s a design choice that hammers home the childish innocence that perforates the game, and when you delve deeper into the journal, and the story surrounding it, it’s hard not to feel like an intruder listening in on the innermost thoughts of another person.
The story and the gameplay are seamlessly intertwined. As you begin to wander the hand-drawn world, you’ll meet other characters who’ll divulge plot details, thus opening up new conversation options with other inhabitants, and giving you a chance to unravel the curious story you’re involved in. It’s a simple and effective way of pushing the narrative forward, whilst keeping you engaged in the plot and the game itself. Often, when in conversation with another character, you'll be able to pick a response from different conversation options, allowing you to directly influence how the story unfolds, whilst also incentivising multiple playthroughs of the game.
Journal is perhaps the oddest game I got my hands on at the expo. It’s a game that’s shrouded in poignancy, perfectly reflecting the naive worries and optimism that only a child can feel. For me to get emotionally invested in a game that I’ve spent very little time with can only be a good sign for Richard Perrin and his beautiful creation. Don’t be fooled by the simple surface of Journal. A lot of time, effort, and thought has gone into perfecting this experience, and it’s one that's well worth checking out.
Jourrnal will be available this year for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android users. A Wii U version of Journal is also in development.