3 - 4 hours adventure gaming time with a price tag of $7 is a little too expensive for my liking.
Graphics: 7 (decent for an indie developer)
Sounds: 8 (musical scores are great / decent voice acting)
Value: 5 (too pricey / quite short)
Tilt: 7 (a decent adventure game)
Actual score: 6.4
If you managed to look at the screen shots for 'The Journey Down – Episode One', it looks like reminisce of the 1998 adventure game Grim Fandango. There's nothing wrong with that however to those who played Grim Fandango instantly sets a very high bar for this adventure game. Obviously I cannot say there's a direct correlation between these two however you cannot argue that it doesn't bring a sense of déjà vu.
How does this game stands up to the adventure game genre doesn't add any new features or innovation as it plays like a typical point-and-click adventure game. That is you click on the item or person to perform an action. There is also some inventory management (as in drag / drop two items to create another item) and that's basically about it.
Yet I felt the programmers are more into story telling of an African tale than trying to be innovative. Not in the sense of a true African tale however influenced by its culture. This definitely can be seen with the two main characters Bwana and Kito as apparently they are moulded by real African masks. You can learn more about the developer's influence once completing the game as it unlocks the 'behind the scenes' feature.
Yet the player can only control Bwana, the part owner of a struggling 'Gas 'n' Charter' located at a fictional bay by a sprawling city. Bwana and Kito in desperate need for cash took the opportunity of a large sum of money by another character, Lina, who requests a plane ride in return. Of course Lina has other reasons (nothing sinister though) yet the catch is the plane hasn't been airborne for quite some time. So your goal is to find the missing parts for the plane and take off to Lina's destination.
Don't let the plot deter you as the character's background story (for which you soon discover) is quite decent. Nothing too ground breaking though however likeable enough. And the other characters Bwana meets are also somewhat memorable (for example: those 'sophisticated sailors'). Also being an episodic adventure, it ends off with a cliff hanger and as mentioned before, once completed, unlocks the 'behind the scenes' feature and in it, drawings from the next episode.
The game does require some trial and error as the puzzles are somewhat illogical. I won't go into examples otherwise it will spoil the game however there is no punishment for being 'daring'. So basically if you think it won't work, more often than not, it will work. Also the area will trigger a 'hotspot' if the cursor hovers over it and thankfully there are no red herrings. So just remember, all hotspots have some sort of purpose in the game.
Visually it's quite decent as the 2D backdrops are nicely drawn and blends well with all the 3D characters. Yet all the characters animations are a little ridged for my liking. Yet the best features are the voice acting as it's voiced very well (as I cannot recall any 'heavy breathing') and the music is adorable. Nice 'Caribbean' like tunes that encourages you to say 'hey man' and I believe it only uses four instruments being the synthesiser, trumpet, sax and drums. For such a small set of musical instruments can produce some wonderful tunes.
Being an episodic adventure, don't expect a long game. I'm not sure what's the average length should be however I knocked it off around three to four hours. I feel my gameplay time is average yet I guess it really depends upon how switched on you are solving puzzles. For the price tag of $7 on steam is a little too pricey for my liking so it's best wait to get all four together then buying one at a time.