PAX West 2017: Original Journey

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

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If you had told me prior to PAX West 2017 that I’d be demoing a game involving sentient potatoes wearing mech suits, I would have called you a filthy liar. But as it turned out, a game that was already on my radar, Original Journey, is indeed a game about potato creatures. But that’s not all it’s about. It’s also a uniquely animated, hand drawn shmup with light rogue elements.

Original Journey | Weapon Select

The thing that first drew me to Original Journey was the primarily black and white, almost sketchbook artstyle of the game. Not to give you the impression that it’s a lazy style, far from it. While lacking color, the art is still complex and full of nice little details. I also found that such a unique style helped cement the game more in my mind as a one of a kind (the only other notable black and white game I played was MadWorld on the Wii).

Original Journey | Combat

Also surprising about the game is the fact that, despite being a rogue shmup, it’s also very focused on narrative. The potato people, called the Ato, are searching for a power source to save their home world, and have come to the Shadow planet in order to find it. According to the devs, the plot is one that is very conscious of the theme of colonization, and all the dangers that portends. It’s far from a basic “good guys save the day” story.

Original Journey | Shoot

As for the combat itself, it’s both simple and delightful. Your character wears a pretty fantastic mech suit and is armed with two weapons at a time. The more you play, the more you can customize your player, giving him a new suit, a new drone and even new weapons. In the demo, I started out with a gatling gun and shotgun, but later found a blade and sniper rifle to try out. It’s important to realize that ammo is not infinite (except for blades), so you need to make every bullet count. Luckily, you can increase your bullet capacity as well as finding ammo from destroyed enemies, you just can’t rely solely on random drops.

Original Journey | Tree Boss

Gameplay revolves around fighting waves of foes, then heading back to your ship to upgrade, then fighting some more. This is interspersed with narrative moments as well as harrowing boss fights. Though the demo was at an early point in the game, I found myself quickly drawn to the plot, and wondering where it would go. All in all, I enjoyed my time with Original Journey. Another Indie and Bonfire Entertainment have a truly unique shmup here, and I can’t wait to see what other secrets will be unearthed. While it is out on Steam now, it’s also slated to release on PS4, Switch and XBox One. Stay tuned to oprainfall for more Original Journey coverage in the future.

About Josh Speer

Josh Speer is addicted to two things in equal measure : Books and Videogames. He has a degree from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis on writing. He joined Operation Rainfall last year while following it on Facebook. His two giant life goals are to write his own series of fantasy / science fiction novels and to get into the creative side of the video game industry. He is beyond pleased to now have his proverbial foot in the door thanks to the opportunity provided by Oprainfall!