Old Man’s Journey, a soul-searching puzzle adventure, tells a story of life, loss, and hope. Interacting with the world around you, you’ll shape the landscape to create the old man’s path forward. Experience heartache and hope as you embark on a heartfelt journey through a sunkissed world.
Developed by Broken Rules, Old Man’s Journey released on mobile platforms and macOS along with Windows in May 2017 and was also nominated for mobile game of the year at last year’s Game Awards. It has now joined the ‘nindies‘ program and made its way to the Nintendo Switch.
Opening on a Lemony Snicket inspired house overlooking the ocean, the old man of this story receives a letter from the local mail-man (delivering on push-bike), and without a second thought the old man gathers his gear and heads off. You are never able to read the letter to ascertain what the urgency of our journey is, or what tone this journey is — whether it is a happy trip, sad or funny, at first this is a mystery. You know the trip must be of some importance though, and so you head off, leading the old man on his journey.
World manipulation is the sole gameplay mechanic of Old Man’s Journey. It’s simple, elevates in difficulty perfectly, but never stumps you to interrupt the pace and tone of the story. Dragging the hills in the background up or down to connect them you’ll be able to make the old man traverse further into the world. The puzzles get slightly more difficult introducing waterfalls to use or traverse over or structures that need to be overcome. The only big difficulty spike for me was when the game introduced sheep as things to work around and I didn’t click straight away that they were ‘enemies.
You can play Old Man’s Journey in the Switch’s various forms, although I’d strongly suggest handheld mode solely for the use of the touchscreen. Playing docked you can use the joy-cons as pointers on the screen to pull objects and click on everything necessary, but it’s very janky and requires constantly resetting the pointer. You go down to 720p playing in handheld, but gain the fluidity of the touch screen — and the games art shines either way honestly.
Oh, the art! It’s amazing design and storytelling in each moving page. The colours and tone of each area tell stories silently in the background as you move through and warp the world around you. I went screenshot crazy as I played the game and have a nice folder of beautiful images to cherish.
Relying entirely on visual storytelling also make the design and art even more impressive. In the hour it took me to finish Old Man’s Journey I got emotional hooked to the story, the world and this character — the old man — feeling for him, as his history unfolds throughout the adventure.