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.
Time Played: 108 minutes
Console: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox
Recommended For: A relaxing puzzle game with beautiful mechanics
An old man, living alone atop a hill, receives a letter in the post and immediately packs up his bags and ventures out on an epic journey across wild terrain, the sea, by train, and perched on the back of a truck. Through the trials on his old bones we learn about his life, his hopes and his dreams through a series of flashbacks. The puzzle mechanics are a simple yet tool to tell this heartbreaking story without a single word. I’m not crying… YOU’RE CRYING!
In the Steam Summer Sale I picked up 30 new titles I’d never heard of before, and Old Man’s Journey was one of them. I didn’t really know what to expect – it was one of my ‘wildcard’ purchases from the “Puzzle” category, and looking at the multitude of excellent reviews I knew I’d found a hidden gem.
I’d move mountains for this old man
…No seriously, that’s how you play this game. Have you ever been in a long car drive daydreaming out the window as the hills rise and fall over the landscape? It’s easy to imagine a figure running along the top of them, leaping from hill to hill as the perspective shifts. This is how the puzzles work in Old Man’s Journey. He’s a lone figure moving across the beautiful landscape alone, on a journey that you’ll not understand until the game’s climax. The side scroller gameplay makes it easy to pick up and master quickly.
It’s a puzzle mechanic I’ve never seen before, making Old Man’s Journey an instant classic in my eyes. Totally original and executed to perfection! Sure, there are other games where moving parts of the landscape is a central mechanic, but pulling and pushing hills out of the way in this whimsical side scroller felt altogether fresh.
Just as the puzzles start to feel repetitive, the game does mix it up a little. Each new area brings with it new challenges – such as encountering sheep which must be safely moved out of the way to let you pass, or fences which must be knocked down. Some of my favourite parts of Old Man’s Story were the ‘travel sequences’, where our old man character hops on a train or the back of a pickup truck and speeds through the landscape gracefully.
I’m not crying… You’re crying!
What I loved most about Old Man’s Journey, no surprise, was the story. It’s equal parts heart warming and heart breaking. As a player, besides shifting the landscape to make the old man’s journey possible, you’re largely left in the dark about the who, what and why, making it feel like you’re going on the journey of discovery with the characters.
At points, the titular characters takes breaks in his walk and reflects on life through a series of flashbacks, each recalling a moment in his life. We see his life as a young man, meeting his first love, starting a family, building his own home and, at points in our own story, the landscape changes to match the mood. There’s a sense of spring youthfulness at the start, and stormy trouble at the old man reflects on sadder moments in his life.
The developers have also added a language-less touch to the whole experience too, making the game powerful for every audience, regardless of language. What I mean by this is there are no words. No written dialogue, no conversation, heck even the buttons aren’t labelled – it’s all intuitive.
It’s excellent environmental storytelling: expressions, weather, colours, and painterly landscapes of the past. Just like this old man is, all are solitary, sad and quiet.
Who should play this?
You should play this if you, like me, keep forgetting to ring your grandparents, or elderly parents. It’s a really straightforward puzzle game and easy to get the hang of – so a great one for puzzle enthusiasts and beginners alike. Old Man’s Journey has also now been released for mobile too, so there’s no excuse not to check it out.
Personally, I played this on PC. I felt a little bit under the weather and wanted to sit back, enjoy some Art (with a capital A!) and solve some simple puzzles. At around 60 minutes long, it’s on the shorter side. You could complete this game in the same length of time it takes to complete an escape room, or more likely wait in line at the doctors.
This makes it a great game to check out if you’ve only an hour or two to spare, want simple mechanics and beautiful graphics. Play Old Man’s Story for a sense of peace and a meaningful message. This game is undemanding, moving and utterly brilliant.
Purchase Old Man’s Journey on the website.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.