Developer: One Bit Studio
Publisher: One Bit Studio
Tested On: PC
A Long Road Home – Review
A Long Road Home is a casual indie game which doesn’t pretend to be much more than that. One Bit Studio is really only ‘bit sized’ as there is only one developer, which makes the fact that he was able to create this fun little game on his own all the more impressive and even makes you forgive some of the visible errors in the game. Even though you can finish the game in an hour or six, with its 2D artwork and top-down view it makes us reminisce about a bygone era.
Like in a lot of games of this type your character wakes up in a strange bed, in a strange house, in a strange town, wearing someone else’s clothes and accompanied by the first NPC you will interact with. Luckily this time you don’t have memory loss so you can recall that you were with your family when you were attacked and heavily wounded. Unfortunately the people that found you in the forest did not see any sign of your mother and sister and thus begins the quest to find and rescue both of them.
As the storyline unravels while you progress through the game it becomes clear that the kidnapping of your family was no accident but plotted by a secret cult led by a nefarious being. You will have to learn more about both the divine beings and the infinite number of planes they can wander in. Luckily one of them is on your side to help you on your quest. While the complete story can easily be written down on a small paper it does provide enough queues to base several of the puzzles on.
To say that the graphics of A Long Road Home are advanced would be a gross overstatement. Not only has a very classical 2D top-down view been adopted, also the sprites that are used (and reused) leave a lot to the imagination. This doesn’t really bother us that much as it captures a certain memory of the past but the overall look & feel of the game is not completely consistent. While the majority of what you see can be described as okay pixel art there are other parts like the inventory that look out of place because they use more advanced graphics. One of the puzzles is on the other side of the spectrum looking quite amateurish. There are also quite a few spelling mistakes in the dialogs.
As soon as you start the game, a soothing soundtrack starts to play which never really seems to stop. Even though the game can be finished in about six hours we soon found ourselves less soothed by the music and switched it out for our own playlist. As it is a casual game, the lack of ambiance didn’t really bother us. Both the soundtrack and effects are probably royalty-free generic audio anyway.
In this puzzle adventure game you control your character (which you can name yourself) either by using the arrow keys on your keyboard or by pointing and clicking where you want to go. We recommend using the latter as navigating the world seems to go a lot faster like that. On some occasions it seemed like the controls were not responding but we could not reproduce this reliably and possibly we were not clicking on the correct square. At the start of the game there is a small tutorial you can take to learn the ropes.
You are limited in where you can move by natural barriers and strategically placed guards who can’t let you pass because it is not safe. At one point though, one of the guards moves, but you still can’t follow the road out of town which is quite confusing as you might think that’s where the next part of the adventure lies. Next to moving your character you can also view your inventory, use items in the world or combine two items to create a new one. The interface for managing and using your inventory feels quite clunky and has a peculiar way of interacting with it. We lost quite some time on opening the inventory, clicking in the wrong place, cursing and having to restart again.
The main part of the game is of course about solving puzzles and there are quite good ones incorporated. You really have to take note of every part of the lore if you want to solve them and you might find yourself backtracking to get a detail you thought wasn’t important at first. There are hints and solutions everywhere but unfortunately some of them only show once a certain scripted event has happened which implies that you have to revisit areas of interest to be able to progress. Certain events will also only trigger once you have “learned” by reading about them.
Although there are unfriendly NPC’s in the game you don’t have to worry about having to fight them or dying. Whenever you are about to encounter a dangerous NPC your character will intervene and walk away proclaiming that maybe it’s better to not get hurt again. You rather have to outwit them, which on occasion might involve using explosives or poison.
Despite the fact that it shows that this game has been developed by only one person, A Long Road Home is a fun little game you can play if you have some time to pass. You will not be blown away by the storyline or the graphics, but the puzzles definitely make up for that and are quite addictive, making you want to finish the game in one go. If you like puzzle games this is one to consider putting on your shelf.