From developer and publisher Broken Rules comes Old Man’s Journey the visually stunning puzzle game that places the story at the forefront, putting you in the shoes of an old man as you experience what his life had to offer. The game was originally released on mobile devices and computers back in May of 2017, with the Switch receiving a port of the game in February of 2018.
In this game you take control of, you guessed it, an old man. At the start you receive a letter prompting you to embark on a journey that takes you through the life of the old man. Throughout the game you experience this life through a series of flashbacks rather than hefty dialogue. We’re shown images of love, regret, hope, tremendous loss, and sadness and while the story and adventure don’t last very long, the impact of the story will be great as you experience this uniquely pleasing game.
Old Man’s Journey is an environmental puzzler that offers a very condensed gaming experience. Throughout the game there isn’t a single line of dialogue. The only communication as to the story elements is delivered through flashbacks to earlier moments in the protagonist’s life. These are activated by arriving at certain destination points and also serve as both checkpoints to save your progress and as ways to change the pace of the gameplay. These scenes will often have the old man interact with a faster moving vehicle to traverse more land in a smaller period of time, helping to accelerate the narrative from the normally slow pace of play. The checkpoint system is underutilized though, in my opinion, especially considering the shortness of the game in general (about 2 hours).
The gameplay, at its root, is a 2D sidescroller that manipulates depth to add in the idea of a 3D environment to the game. You never directly control the old man, instead opting for a point-and-click cursor system that gives him his destination, which is only reachable pending successful completion of the puzzle presented in your current frame of the game. To solve puzzles you have to manipulate the layout of the environment around you by changing the height of hills, moving herds of sheep out of your way, and even rolling circular stones through walls to break them open. While this gameplay style certainly isn’t for everyone, its accessibility and story-driven style are what make this game so unique and what make it so different from normal gaming conventions.
What is also unique are the lengths to which this development team went to make this game as gorgeous as it possibly could be. The graphic style is so polished, colorful, and artistic that it really looks incredible no matter how you play. The sound design adds to the story-driven nature of the game, helping to push the narrative forward through the clever use of timing especially with some of the naturally occurring elements like thunder or rain. There are even more comedic elements that help break up the monotony of the tasks and also the often-sad nature of Old Man’s Journey From a graphic and sound perspective, I feel as if this is one of the best games the Switch has to offer in this department, but for reasons not traditionally associated with graphical quality.
Old Man’s Journey places you in the shoes of our aging protagonist as he relives his life through flashback moments to deliver a unique story of love, loss, tragedy, and hope. The minimal gameplay elements and short run time are a little bit of a letdown in my book, but the graphics are truly something to experience. While the $10 price tag is quite high for what was originally a mobile game, I do think Switch users would enjoy this game, just maybe wait for a sale to knock that price down. Right now though, I’d have to say this game is a Nintendon’t.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Broken Rules
Developer – Broken Rules
Price – $9.99
Genre – Puzzle
Size – 733 MB