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Old Man’s Journey – well-paced and moving adventure game

Award-winning emosh-fest arrives on iOS

Price: $5/£5
Version: 1.1
Size: 1.26 GB
Developer: Broken Rules Interactive
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Old Man’s Journey

Update! This multi-award winning narrative journey has been out for a few years now, has anything changed?

So, what’s new? In short, nothing that really affects the gameplay. However, following its release, it won a number of awards and was selected as an App Store editor’s choice. Off the back of that, the developers released a console version which itself introduced a bunch of visual improvements and bug fixes. That, alongside continuous updates for new screen sizes across both iPhone and iPad means the game itself has been preserved perfectly while simultaneously providing consistent cross-device presentation – in fact, you can now play it on your iPhone and seamlessly continue on your iPad.

Revised rating: Still good! ★★★★


Our original review, written in June 2017, is presented in its entirety below.

Old Man’s Journey strikes an interesting balance. It’s highly-attuned and stylized visuals support a simple but very moving narrative. But, the actual game mechanics – the playable part of it – are limited. The main interaction that’s required is to use your finger to move the landscape around the titular old man to enable his journey. Often, these passive, narrative-driven games become a little tedious, but this title slowly ramps up the difficulty, making the journey more puzzle-like. But really, it’s the story that drives this game, and it’s executed expertly.

The majority of the landscape can be moved up and down to help him on his way

The game starts with an Old Man in his house by the sea. The gentle, well-composed soundtrack supports a pondering moment for the man, before he decides to leave on his journey with just a back pack and a stick. We don’t initially know where he’s going or why, but the dialog-free story is unveiled as his quest unfolds.

Well-crafted scenes reveal more of his past between levels

Though technically the game has thirty levels, you wouldn’t notice so much if you played it through in one go. After you’ve helped the old man through a few obstacles, he’ll find a seat where he rests and ponders once more. These are the points where the story is revealed in a single, digitally-painted image revealing more about the Old Man’s younger days, and the hint of a family. Where are they? What happened to the Old Man? Keep playing, and you’ll find out, as you take him towards a satisfying and moving (though perhaps slightly saccharine) conclusion.

The game introduces a few interesting dynamics – such as landscape manipulation while moving

Despite the simplistic movement of landscapes to help the man on his journey, the game does offer up some other elements to keep it interesting. For example, he sometimes travels by train, or truck, and you have to move the landscape as the vehicle drives through. However, the stakes aren’t particularly high – the vehicle will just stop until you’ve moved the landscape if you’re not fast enough. Also, the downside of a story-led nature and basic game mechanics means there’s virtually zero replay value.

The landscapes are varied, too. They move through bright, hopeful scenes to dark, rainy worlds

Old Man’s Journey is a highly-accomplished title about life, loss and hope, and though the $5 price tag might put some people off, it’s not that bad a deal for a richly developed game. It’s also much-lauded: the game was the Media Choice Award at Indiecade Europe in 2016 when it was first launched on desktop platforms, and has been officially selected at countless other celebrations of indie and mobile games events.

For those that don’t want to play the kind of puzzle adventure games where you frequently come up across devilish puzzles, and instead prefer a rich narrative and gorgeous visuals, give this a shot.