It's not often I get called upon to write about sentient root vegetables using exo suits to fight against their enemies, but here I am. Original Journey is an action adventure game that places the fate of the Ato race into hands of the player as they try to gain control of a source of power on a distant planet to prevent their own demise.
The plight of the Ato is not a good one and their collective prognosis leads one to conclude that their presence in their reality is about to come to an end. In a desperate bid to regain their former glory they have sought out the Origin Stone in an attempt to use its legendary power to put an end to the blight that has befallen the Ato. These Ato are in fact potatoes that have become self-aware. Yes you read that correctly, you're not having a fevered dream about Mr Potato Head.
From the outset Original Journey revels in fast-paced storytelling and an action-packed player experience. A 2D, combat-heavy platformer, players are required to navigate strange terrain in order to complete each level. A variety of weapons eventually becomes unlocked as the player progresses through the myriad levels Original Journey boasts.
Typically in any given play session the player is required to have a true aim with their weapons of choice as well as have some spatial awareness as to how they can get from one platform to another without being obliterated. Turrets and other AI-controlled helpers do ease the struggle somewhat, but ultimately to be successful in Original Journey players must master the mix of shooter and platformer.
I played Original Journey at PAX West and was really impressed with how polished it was in terms of the whole experience. The controls were responsive and needed to be considering the intense on-screen action as the levels I played through unfolded before me. The ability to change weapons altered the tactics employed depending on what kind of enemy I was facing.
The use of black and white imagery is not new of course, but in the case of Original Journey I think it's exceptionally fitting as the tale it tells is a very dark one, asking how far would a people go to save itself. Moral choices are presented to the player as they continue to plough through each area, hoping to find the mythical Origin Stone, the thing that will apparently save the Ato people from extinction.
I thoroughly enjoyed Original Journey and particularly liked the writing as story is the one thing that drives me on more than anything in action adventure games. The huge host of non-player characters made me care about their plight even more. It's something developers are relying on more as empathy becomes ever more important.
Original Journey is out now for Windows PC and will arrive on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch later this year.