Space travel can go awry at any time, especially when astronauts are working with new technology for the first time. In Daedalic Entertainment’s The Long Journey Home (coming to Steam, and potentially Xbox One and PlayStation 4, in the fall or winter), you take control of a crew that’s attempting humanity’s first space jump at light speed. However, the mission wasn’t a success, and now the crew is stranded on the other end of the galaxy trying to get back to Earth.
Along the way, you’ll encounter new alien races, strange artifacts and dangerous factions. For space-based game fans, this sounds somewhat similar to Subset Games’ FTL, which is more focused on survival as you fight off invading aliens and broken rooms on your ship. However, The Long Journey Home’s focus is actually in it’s name. It’s the journey of your lost crew that makes this game so appealing.
The Open Galaxy
Moments after the initial light jump, your ship is in disarray. Various parts of your spacecraft might be damaged, or you’re low on fuel. Stranded in an unknown solar system, you can drive the ship around the area to find planets and then send one of your crew members to its surface and gather resources for repair and refuel. There’s even some real-world physics involved when you approach a planet. As you get closer to the celestial object, its gravity will start to trap you in orbit, but you easily get out by continuing to thrust away from the planet.
As this is an unknown part of the galaxy, you’re bound to run into beings or items that that you’ve never seen before. For example, creative director Andreas Suika showed an encounter where the crew found a strange artifact floating in space. Depending on your crew’s background — some might have deep scientific knowledge whereas others have a history in the military — you can discover the artifact’s strange origins, which will lead to another alien race, or it just stays in your inventory as a mysterious item.
Speaking of alien races, you’ll encounter numerous beings throughout your journey. These aliens control most of the systems that you have to travel through to get home, and more often than not, it’s preferable to stay in the good graces of various races if you want travel safely.
However, there are times when diplomacy accidentally lands on your lap. Suika encountered a derelict ship, which contained one surviving alien. This alien said that he was an ambassador from a neighboring race, and your crew would be rewarded for getting home safely. A few minutes later, a bounty hunter shows up that said that the “ambassador” we had was actually a fugitive. It’s up to you how you proceed in this situation, but the wrong move can make your trip longer than expected.
In the conversation with the bounty hunter, you hear a code, which can be used at various outposts to show that your crew can be bounty hunters as well. Various quests dot the galaxy, and you can take on many missions as you like, but at some point you do have to make your way back home. There's also times when you have to get on the offensive and use the ship's cannons. However, my walkthrough with Suika didn't have much combat to show off.
Lost In Space
Then again, you can choose to roam the galaxy for as long as you want. In addition to keeping track of your ship’s vitals, you’ll need to watch out for hostile aliens and new systems as you travel through the unknown. What makes each new game more interesting is the fact that each galaxy is randomly generated, so your experience can differ from other players. You could find quests and races that they didn’t encounter in their playthrough and vice versa.
For the speedrunners, Suika said that the story takes about four to six hours to complete. The Long Journey Home is best enjoyed if you stray away from the beaten path and discover new species. After all, who knows what you’ll find in the deep reaches of space?