I love when video games take a unique stance on something that is assumed to be a standard. Valheim went the survival route without making you worry about eating, or paying repair costs for things you’ve built. This love can quickly turn into a deep hate, though, if the game ends up giving up on that pursuit halfway through. So when I saw that Voyage was going to convey an entire video game with no audible voices and no text dialogue I was very intrigued. So, how did the game do with no typical storytelling elements, and should you pick this new release up to try? Let's dig into that.
When starting up the game and diving in, I immediately noticed two things: the art style and the controls.
First things first, this game is gorgeous. Being a cinematic adventure game, with no text or spoken word, leaves you with a lot of time to study the visuals—and they deliver. Voyage sets the player in a gorgeous world, filled with ghostly spirits, and a backdrop that varies from luscious grassy fields, to barren sandstorm-filled desert, to an on-fire spaceship. The foreground has a gorgeous bokeh to it, giving the side scroller a feel of depth.
If I’m forced to pick a favorite among the visuals though it becomes a very clear choice for me. The spirits that look like a moss-covered rock person immediately reminded me of the Kodamas from Princess Mononoke. Putting my nerdy self aside, though, the graphics immediately jump out as a major plus. I also mentioned that I love when a game sticks to its guns on a stance that it takes, and to that end the fact that even the menus in Voyage don’t contain written words stuck out as something I thoroughly enjoyed.
The visuals are accompanied by a soft backing track that does the game justice without overpowering scenes. The music ties directly into how I want to feel when playing a game like this. Relaxed. That being said, there are times that the music shifts to really drive the emotion of a scene. For a game that can’t rely on dialogue to aid that emotional direction, this is definitely needed and comes across well.
The second item was the controls. Take my advice now and get out a controller rather than your mouse and keyboard. There are very few keyboard controls, and your movement is done entirely through mouse clicking and holding. I tried this out for several minutes—noticing that some of the interactions to climb up ledges or grab my partner's hands were very clunky—before giving up on mouse and keyboard entirely. Moving over to a controller, the controls became much more smooth. There’s still very few controls you actually need to use for the game, but the simplicity really lets you observe what’s going on around you so that you can infer the story you’re playing through.
I mentioned the controls are pretty simple, but that’s because the gameplay really doesn’t need a whole lot of complexity. The straightforward controls are perfect for navigating the 2D maps and backtracking into new spaces as you push and pull obstacles and items around. Several of the areas involve puzzles that aren’t overly complicated but can pose some challenge if you do miss an interaction point or two. I found myself getting so drawn into the surroundings that occasionally I had to run back and use the “ping” ability to find what points I had missed.
But all of this leads to the charm of the game. I’ve talked about the specifics but where the game really comes together is in how these different components come together.
I had a chance to sit back, relax, and watch the story unfold in front of me rather than having to focus on specific gameplay elements. Traversing the scenery quickly becomes second nature to allow you to focus on not just solving any potential puzzles, but how you’re solving them. Statues that you reassemble to open a traversal point aren’t just statues but depictions of a key moment in the overall story. The game doesn’t try to be something else. It sticks to its core by being an artistic, cinematic story and does it really well.
Voyage also offers a multiplayer side. While the multiplayer doesn’t add a ton from the gameplay perspective, I found it extremely enjoyable. My wife and I were able to discuss what we thought the story was trying to tell us. We also had a few laughs as I repeatedly refused to help her climb up cliffs and receiving a bit of turnabout for it later.
At this point the game sounds like an absolute must have, right? Well there are some things that don’t work in the games favor that we need to talk about.
Voyage can get a bit repetitive. There aren’t really any new gameplay elements that get introduced throughout the journey. You continue to solve puzzles in varying maps, and the methods for solving the puzzles a little, but at the end of the day they come down to navigating obstacles, interacting with objects by pressing a button, and pushing/pulling things.
While cinematically appealing, the lack of text or vocal dialogue can lull you into a bit of a pattern. I found that playing the game in smaller chunks prevented this, but when I woke up on Saturday with lots of time to dive in, I found myself almost not paying attention as I walked back and forth on the screen, absentmindedly knowing what I needed to do.
I mentioned the game sticks to what it is, but that’s also kind of the summation of its problems. That’s what makes this game trickier for me to judge. Do I base it on whether I think a broad audience would enjoy it? Or do a base it on a more general predetermined set of criteria?
Luckily for me, the answer is none of the above, and I get to judge, and make my recommendation purely on how I felt about the game. Overall, I really think the game is great within its genre. What it isn’t, is a game for everyone. If you aren’t looking for a cinematic easy puzzle solver, then this game probably isn’t going to be your favorite. If, however, any of those elements entice you, then I highly recommend checking out Voyage today.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Hey, my name is Jon, i'm a bit of a jack of all trades/master of none and that reflects in my choice of games. I'll play anything that catches my eye, although I burnt myself out on the MMO side with Runescape and RFOnline growing up, so you're less likely to find me there.
Outside of games, I love music and making things, getting outside with my Husky Rowdy, am getting married this winter, and spend more time than I care to admit watching cooking shows on Youtube and Netflix.View Profile