"This is one to keep an eye on, folks."
Who doesn't like space travel? It's served as the basis of many a science fiction property, and Daedalic Entertainment's The Long Journey Home has the exploration of the unknown and survival against unthinkable odds at its core. Fans of sci-fi properties like Interstellar, Firefly, or Freelancer are going to find a lot to love about The Long Journey Home, but it was the procedurally generated game world and unique mechanics that made it one of the most interesting games I saw at the show. This is one to keep an eye on, folks.
The Long Journey Home's setup is that the first jump drive test made by mankind ended up with the crew stranded on the other side of the galaxy. In true Star Trek: Voyager fashion, you have to get your crew back home to Earth, and the only way to do that is to explore the various planets you come across to salvage materials to repair your ship and make your way through space. There are ten playable characters in the game, but you can only choose four to take with you on the mission that leaves the crew stranded, which in conjunction with the procedurally generated world places an emphasis on replaying the game multiple times, as different crew members have unique skills and perspectives that may benefit or detract from the mission's success. According to the developers, a single playthrough will last about four hours, but the experience will be different every time you play.
Daedalic wants to make sure that the decisions the player has to make in order to survive their journey are interesting. Getting at least one crew member back to Earth will finish that playthrough, but it's a game over if all four die, and there is only one save file and permadeath present to force players to face the consequences of their actions. Making a mistake could cost you a crew member, along with all of their skills and insight, and the ship itself will require repair by harvesting materials or salvaging alien technology. Speaking of aliens, there are multiple races that will offer their own sets of quests and allegiances. The developers mentioned that they wanted interactions with the alien species to have a "lost in translation" feeling to them, so that players would genuinely feel like they were trying to converse with an alien entity with entirely different diplomatic and economic perspectives.
Really, though, what sold me on The Long Journey Home was the world map and how the game facilitates exploration. You'll have to guide your ship from planet to planet on a two-dimensional plane, which is all well and good, but the game actually requires players to escape from the well of gravity by orbiting a planet and propelling themselves into the depths of space. This was such a neat little detail that convinced me of Daedalic's vision. Exploring planets is handled almost like a side-scroller, with players guiding their ship past environmental hazards and stopping to pick up collectibles that take the form of alien artifacts or other materials. In both the world map and planetary exploration, I found The Long Journey Home's visual style to be quite striking, meeting a good balance between minimalist and the technological complexity one would expect from a space exploration roguelike. Gamers can expect to play The Long Journey Home on PC later this year, and on consoles in 2017, and given what Daedalic has shown us so far, I'm sure the final result is going to be very interesting.