With the name Journey already taken, indie outfit Venturous has seemingly settled on ‘Voyage’ to convey embarking on a grand adventure. So, grab a thick pair of socks and some Kendal Mint Cake – we’re going on a journey. Sorry, voyage.
This brief, two-hour, side-scrolling adventure involves controlling two characters at once as they trek across ancient magical lands. There’s no text or spoken dialogue whatsoever – and no UI either, aside from a minimalistic options menu – which means the story is more or less open to interpretation, especially the introduction.
It essentially amounts to visiting several locations in search of emblems that will help to guide the duo home, with life and death being a running theme – ghostly apparitions are common sights, along with Studio Ghibli-style forest sprites.
It’s possible to swap between characters or command one to remain while the other goes on ahead. In the absence of unique skills, teamwork takes centre stage, such as giving one another a ‘leg up’ or working together to either topple large objects or push them to where they’re needed. There’s no combat, and no grounds for failure – you’re free to progress at your own pace, with not even the vaguest of prompts to put you on the right path should you become lost.
Teamwork-focused games often see pairs split up to solve larger puzzles but that’s rarely the case here – a missed opportunity to incorporate more complex, or multi-layered, puzzle elements. Mostly, you’re merely walking to the right, occasionally either pushing or holding down the ‘A’ button whenever an obstacle blocks the path ahead. It lacks the ingenuity of Unravel 2 and Brothers, while also suffering from having far few mechanics – our duo has only the most basic of actions.
Chapters end with a sliding block puzzle, but again, these too aren’t anything too taxing – the most complex of these involves sliding four clearly marked shapes into place. If you find yourself stuck at any point, you’ve likely overlooked a switch (or similar) that’s undisguisable from the background.
It’s the visuals here that impress the most – Voyage is a genuine treat to behold, taking the silence wanders from ancient ivy-coated ruins to a luscious green meadow with tall bellowing grass. When entering a new location, I often found myself gawping for a few seconds before continuing the path ahead. Character animation isn’t exactly exemplary, but it’s pleasing enough, given the limited range of actions. To reiterate, Voyage mostly involves climbing, pushing, and pulling.
When the ending credits rolled, I didn’t feel like I had been on an epic or transformative journey – there aren’t enough emotional beats to make the story memorable. There’s a clear beginning and end, but it suffers from no definable ‘middle’ while also doling few surprises. The absence of danger is also noticeable.
This is a simple game that simply invites you to casually stroll through its rich and varied worlds. That’s all it wants from you, and that’s all it can humbly provide.
Voyage is available now on consoles, published by Ratalaika Games. The PC version launched in 2021.