Review

Journey of a Roach Review

  • Game release: November 4, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

A bug's life.

Nobody really likes roaches, do they? They're pretty gross looking, after all, and they serve no real purpose other than to wake you up by skittering along the wood floor of your bedroom in the middle of the night. Yet science suggests that these nasty creatures would outlast humans in a nuclear apocalypse, which is the basis for Journey of a Roach, a point-and-click adventure game that does the impossible: it makes roaches likable.

Perhaps even more impressive is that it does so without any dialogue. Journey of a Roach tells the story of two roaches: Jim and his clumsy buddy, Bud. Upon getting a glimpse of a flower growing in the barren wasteland of what appears to be a postapocalyptic Earth, Bud tries to guide Jim to the beautiful plant, only to fall deep underground where all sorts of mutated bugs live. On your journey to rescue him, you discover a world full of interesting and varied characters, all brimming with plot and personality despite never speaking a word. It's as if Pixar's A Bug's Life merged with the animated movie 9.

Can you believe there's an empty table at this place?

As a roach, one of your biggest advantages is the ability to crawl up walls and across ceilings, which is immediately neat and useful. You can move freely around the environment with the keyboard or analog stick, and climbing walls makes traversal easy. There are occasional issues with movement, such as when you might not be able to climb onto something that should be no real obstacle for a roach, or moments when the camera rotation is disorienting when you're climbing on ceilings (particularly in one section with air vents you must crawl through), but for the most part, getting around is not a problem.

Though they never speak a word, the characters are wonderfully diverse.

Since Journey of a Roach has no dialogue and isn't heavy on story, the majority of the experience comes down to solving puzzles. This is where the game's point-and-click inspirations are clearest; most puzzles boil down to the tried-and-true "find item in one area, use item somewhere else" mechanics. That said, Journey of a Roach seems to have learned some lessons from both successful and failed adventure games of recent years, and most puzzle solutions do make logical sense (as opposed to requiring seemingly random item combinations that lead to more guesswork than brainpower, like many adventures of old).

Even if you get stuck, you can often get a subtle hint by hovering the cursor over a specific object, which can alleviate some of the frustration of not knowing what an inventory item might be used for. There are a few moments when you might have to resort to trial and error (one puzzle in particular I solved completely by accident, and I'm not sure I would have figured out the solution on my own), but generally, this hint system works well to inform you of exactly what you should be doing.

Hint bubbles help keep your goals clear throughout the journey.

There is also a handy feature that lets you zoom out slightly and highlight "hot spots" (the objects in the environment you can interact with), which can help you locate some of the harder-to-find items. The small arrows it uses to point out objects of interest, however, aren't always enough help. It's still possible that you will spend more time than you'd like beating your head against a puzzle only to discover that you missed the necessary item hidden in the corner of an adjacent room. In this sense, Journey of a Roach falls into the same sorts of traps many adventure games fall into, which you will either find nostalgic or frustrating, depending on your history with the genre.

Though the journey itself is charming, it's the puzzles that keep you pushing forward. None of the puzzles are especially demanding, and you can finish the game in a single two- to three-hour sitting, which feels like an appropriate length once the credits start rolling. Once you know all the solutions to the puzzles, however, the game can easily be completed in under half an hour (in fact, a Steam achievement awards you for finishing it in under 18 minutes). This is not a game for which you'll want to rely on a walkthrough, because it will be over far too quickly.

Journey of a Roach is a charming, worthwhile adventure with some clever puzzles and a nice cast of characters, though you may wish for a longer adventure for the price. It makes some of the same mistakes as its ancestors, but it makes up for most of them with clever design and a unique world. If all roaches were this enjoyable to be around, maybe I wouldn't mind knowing they'll outlive humanity.

The Good
Charming world and characters make roaches enjoyable companions
Puzzles mostly make sense and are a joy to solve
Climbing on walls keeps classic mechanics fresh
The Bad
Occasionally commits classic adventure game sins
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Britton Peele has had many an adventure pointing and clicking. He has sailed with Guybrush Threepwood and taken a long journey to Arcadia. Surprisingly, his experience with roaches that invade his house didn't help much in completing Journey of a Roach, which he did twice for this review.

Discussion

12 comments
Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Superb game, trying to find more like this. Only found Machinarium and Botanicula so far (maybe Samorost, but not sure). 

liyona
liyona

The game was fun, but too short and the puzzles were not hard at all.

VoidSECT
VoidSECT

Come on, this game deserved a video review...no?   I remember watching a trailer of this game don't know where... lol'ed HARD. :]

WantYouBad
WantYouBad

I always wondered what the life of a roach was like while I smear it off my shoe.

Yoshi9000
Yoshi9000

I actually really like the idea of this game for a post apocalyptic setting. Instead of seeing what it would be like for humans, what about the outcome for animals and bugs? I think it's pretty interesting.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Ripper_TV 

I would recommend Samorost, but I have to say here too that Samorost is rather bizarre, even compared to Machinarium and Botanicula.

Yet, really? This game, Journey of the Roach, is superb to you? I have played other adventure games which I find a lot more entertaining and worth the money - specifically the other adventure games which Daedalic published.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

@Gelugon_baat I will have to try others by Deadalic, I guess. But what I liked here most is the absence of dialogs, "cute" atmosphere and not very difficult puzzles.

Journey of a Roach More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Journey of a Roach has players visit a sarcastic, post-apocalyptic world where Roach Jim and his sidekick Bud are out and about to find their way from a deserted vault to the Earth's surface.
    6.6
    Average User RatingOut of 8 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Journey of a Roach
    Developed by:
    Koboldgames
    Published by:
    Daedalic Entertainment
    Genres:
    Puzzle
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending
    All Platforms