Never have I played an adventure game that is done as well as The Longest Journey
The game's biggest highlight is its story. At first glance, the story seems quite simple. You play as April Ryan, a young woman who has to save the two worlds of Stark (a sci-fi world of logic inspired by real life) and Arcadia (a "fantasy" sort of world filled with magic and all sorts of imaginary creatures). However, the story is great because of how much depth it goes into with its characters and how gradually and interestingly it progresses. You will quickly learn to love April Ryan because of her witty personality and along the way you'll also meet many other characters who are simply interesting thanks to their fleshed out backgrounds and personalities. There's also more to the story itself than meets the eye as one can quickly get immersed into a tale all about human nature and destiny.
In terms of gameplay, there really isn't much to say about this game. The Longest Journey is pretty much a pure point-and-click adventure. To the modern gamer who has only been recently initiated into the world of gaming, a point-and-click adventure is a game where you just…point and click stuff. You can interact with items, you can combine items when necessary, and you can talk to people all by clicking on them. To the gamers who are used to shooting people's heads off in an FPS or strategizing your next moves in order to prevent certain death in RPGs, this might sound extremely boring. But really, it isn't, because you'll be too busy paying careful attention to the story and dialogue, and you'll be busy solving puzzles which are pretty much the bulk of the gameplay. A lot of the game consists of puzzles, if you're stuck in your room with a bunch of people trying to break in then you have to solve a puzzle to get out, if you're being attacked by a nasty creature in Arcadia then you need to solve a puzzle to defeat it (although, you can't really die in this game) The puzzles in this game range from extremely easy to really hard to downright illogical which is both good and bad. You will feel extremely satisfied whenever you finish certain puzzles, while after other puzzles you'll just be wondering "What in the world did I just do?". Regardless, the gameplay segments of the game are pretty much like any other point-and-click adventure, and there's not much to say about it.
Now, graphically, I have to say that this game is like a piece of art. Sure, it's really dated because the game was released back in 2000, but honestly, if it was made today, then I bet the game would have looked extremely good. At its current state, the game still looks pretty nice. The 2D backgrounds all look very atmospheric and detailed. The graphic designers managed to implement all sorts of different styles to create two completely different worlds in a single game. They were able to successfully create a believable futuristic world (Stark) and at the same time, were also able to create an almost overused fantasy world in a great way too. The FMV sequences look decent although you can't really come in expecting graphics that rival those of Crysis. The one big thing that takes away from the graphics is the character models. They look blocky, pixelated, and not very detailed. Sure, I know that I said this game was made back in 2000 but if a person who was new to gaming played the game now, that would be the first negative thing about the graphics they would notice. Other than that, the graphics are very stylish, artistic, and pleasant to look at.
The sound design of this game also deserves a lot of credit. The sound effects and music of the game are acceptable and not really memorable, but the game's biggest feature in terms of sound design has got to be the voice acting. Never have I seen a game have such top quality voice acting. The voices are simply so believable and full of emotion. A lot of praise goes out to Sarah Hamilton, the voice of April Ryan who was a key part in bringing her character to life. Her wide array of emotions in the given situations simply makes her a believable character and together with some well written dialog, the producers of The Longest Journey have created a character that I actually cared for. The supporting voice actors and actresses are also pretty nice too and also bring a lot of life to the game.
In terms of replayability, there isn't much that The Longest Journey has going for it. But adventure games were never known for how good they are the second time so it doesn't really matter. Besides, the emotional story of The Longest Journey will have such a great impact the first time that one probably won't care if their isn't much reason to play it again. There is this neat little unlockable called The Book of Secrets that can be achieved by beating the game (or using a certain item in a certain place) and its full of voice outtakes and music remixes which is a pretty nice and is worth taking a look at.
Anyway, all I really have to say is that The Longest Journey is adventure gaming at its finest. There might be a few things to be critical about like the somewhat unsatisfying ending that doesn't wrap up the story well (but then again, isn't that what sequels are for?) and the dated 3D character models, but those things are simply overshadowed by the positives of the game which include a great emotional story, characters that are overflowing with life and emotion, and detailed artistic environments. Any adventure game fan should have this in their collection.