In the best sense of the word, Voyage is a downright picturesque adventure game that’s full of mystery and wonder. Those players who look for a calm and serene experience would definitely enjoy their time here. Playing as one of two humans lost from home, Voyage is a short title that I believe was created for particularly niche audiences.
A Mysterious Paradise
Opening the game up for the first time brings players into a dark, wet abyss with a shimmering diamond-like object in the centre. Offering very little advice, it took me a while to realise that I needed to push certain structures on top of the diamond in order to be transported to the first level. After five or ten minutes of jogging back and forth, I finally awoke in a beautiful, hand-drawn world just waiting to be explored. Alongside me is another human, myself being unsure if they are my brother, sister, friend, lover, etc. The game seems to do a poor job at giving simple details as to who these humans are or what planet they’ve been teleported on, but that might be all part of the mystery. As I explored the world, I encountered alien-like apparitions that tried to offer guidance and directions during puzzles and whilst traversing the environment. There is no voice acting, narration or anything that can simply provide a label to what is encountered in the world, adding more mystery to an already strange place.
If Studio Ghibli Made a Video Game
During the course of my adventure, I noticed how well-animated everything is. For instance, most of the environments and the things that lived in them moved in stop-motion, commonly used in short indie films and old Hollywood blockbusters. After playing so many games at a smooth 60fps, the idea of experiencing stop-motion effects in a video game never came to fruition until now, and it was a welcome experience at that. Both playable characters seem to move in a much smoother animation than their surroundings, maybe hinting at the idea that they don’t belong in this world.
No matter how ironed out the animation is, it doesn’t deviate the fact that Voyage is a bit of a slog to get through sometimes. Half of the game involves pushing an object forwards or backwards, and sometimes players are required to do this for a very long distance. For example, after exiting a boat rowed by a fellow alien apparition, players must drag said boat to shore and pull it all the way to the other end of an island. It’s like the developers knew the game would be short and decided to extend its runtime by adding in boring sequences for filler. Why couldn’t the apparition row the boat around the island to dock on the other side? Understandably, Voyage is meant to be a calm and relaxing experience for players, so maybe I’m not the type of gamer the developers are aiming for.
On the plus side, Voyage has absolutely breathtaking visuals, and its art design is near-flawless. Each chapter is filled with gorgeous scenery that is portrayed like a fresh painting on a blank canvas. There are some extremely minute details that are perfectly sketched within the game that show that the developers truly care for the world they have created for their players. Both lighting and shadow effects are phenomenal and had me in disbelief that such effects could be portrayed in an indie game. Also, the game’s soothing atmosphere is accompanied by a score by Calum Bowen and really helps to immerse the player in such a bizarre land. The music helps players understand that their characters are not only trying to find a way out to escape and get back home, but maybe a tiny part of them would prefer to stay and indulge in this magical wonderland.
There Are No Threats
What is proven by Voyage is that the game is definitely aiming for a very niche audience of relaxed gamers. As my favourite video games include Dying Light and the Dark Souls franchises, Voyage played extremely slow and led me to rush through the game to see the ending. I’m way more used to jumping over rooftops and fighting epic battles than I am peacefully walking through beautiful landscapes without an enemy in sight. Therefore, I do not wish to judge the game based on my own personal preferences but rather how it depicts itself towards its targeted audience. For me, Voyage can become quite boring after a while, but I can understand that for those looking for a sense of adventure in a world that lacks danger, it could become somebody’s next favourite indie game.
Visuals That Belong in a Museum
Voyage was released on PC before being ported to console in August of this year. It’s a story told in pictures, formed through a wordless narrative that can be difficult to follow at times. Follow in the footsteps of the two characters and play the game with a friend, possibly being the true way to experience the adventure.
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Release Date: 12th August 2022
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Switch, Windows PC
THE REVIEW COPY FOR VOYAGE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER