The Average Gamer

Journal Review (PC)

Journal - Park
Journal has been out for 5 days and already been tagged Walking Simulator on Steam. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, you do an awful lot of walking. An annoying amount of walking, in fact, in this narrative-driven game.

You play as a teenaged girl, going through her teenaged life, balancing school, her friends, her parents and other such teenaged girl things. Thankfully, the game never falls into stereotypes of fashion, hair and make-up. This girl has far more to worry about in her life. Test scores threaten to destroy friendships while an unspoken something hangs over everything she does.

You’ll walk back and forth between a bunch of rooms, talking to everyone you meet and making dialogue choices. Some will piss people off. Some will reveal secrets. It puts you in some interesting situations but unless you approach the right people in the right order, things can get a little confusing.

Perhaps this was a deliberate choice. The lack of backstory is definitely a key part of the storytelling here, but in at least one particular case I was left mystified as to why my protagonist was so angry about something I (we) had chosen to do. It all made sense once I spoke to another character that I had missed but had I known that key bit of information beforehand, I probably would have chosen differently.

I suspect this applies to much of the game, as it does in real life. Thanks to your unknown history with each character, you can end a relationship at the click of a button, or change its nature completely. You can also influence those around you, though to me, the payoff for each NPC’s story thread really wasn’t that interesting. The game is only an hour long, which makes it difficult to bond with any of the people in your teenager’s life, though you could always replay it with different choices to get the super-secret ending listed in the achievements.

That said, its limited scope does also minimise the trekking back and forth to find that one character you need in order to progress. You can admire the oddly-pulsating backgrounds as you whizz past them at a comfortably high speed.

The overall story arc’s slow reveal is fully justified in the end, though the game’s simplicity makes me hesitate to recommend it wholeheartedly. There are no puzzles, no feats to accomplish. You just walk around, talk to people and decide how this girl will react. Nicely done but not for everyone.


Journal - Schoolyard Journal - Home

Curious about the verdict? Read our review policy.