I finished the game after playing for 2 weeks. I am taking the liberty of posting my comments/review:
(Caution: may include mild hints or spoilers)OVERVIEW:
Journey to Hell is a dark game involving demons, witchcraft and evil where the hero travels several continents in a mission to save the world from the impending Apocalypse. Dazzling art combined with appropriate music create an enjoyable and immersive game environment. A well-designed plot and some really good puzzles show that a lot of effort and artful creativity went into this game. The game is about 2/3 of a full-length adventure game.
Caution: This game contains nudity and sexual content and as such may not be suitable for all players. WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME
- As I said in the intro, one of the strongest aspects of the game was the background art. I don't know how much was taken from stock images and how much hand drawn but the art created a great environment. I am not usually crazy about looping music scores but the music was very well chosen to fit the different regions and times of day. The sound effects were very appropriate as well
(Am I the only one who thinks the winged horse sounds like a helicopter?
- The world is quite extensive with lots to explore and do. That made the game quite fun.
- The plot was detailed enough to keep wanting to play yet not so full of detail that it just got out of hand. The "problem" that the player faced and the steps to solve it were quite clear as the story unfolded. I would consider this one of the strengths of the game.
- Some of the puzzles were very clever and struck a perfect balance between a challenge and providing just enough hints to solve the challenge which really makes adventure gaming what it's supposed to be.
- The gameplay system combining standard puzzles with object puzzles with a bit of arcade-style challenges kept things interesting.
Clearly a lot of creativity, planning and skill went into this game.WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time playing this game. Please consider this section more of advice as to how to make a sequel (or totally different game) better by capitalizing on the strengths of JTH rather than criticism.
- I said that the art was beautiful and it really was. However, some of the animation was good but some of the sprites really weren't done well. I pointed out an example of the motion of the innkeeper. Another example is the unarticulated motion of Susan the cook which really looks inconsistent with the overall feel of the game. Many of the characters looked like they were just painted into the background (archduke or people in the inn) and that detracts from an otherwise excellent environment.
- I pointed out that the fonts in parts of the game was almost impossible to read.
- The biggest weakness in the game in my opinion was many of the puzzles. While I did say that some of them were perfect and very clever and enjoyable, unfortunately many of them seemed to have random/illogical solutions and made the game very frustrating. The general problems with the puzzles were:
- Too many too fast. There was almost literally another puzzle in every room you enter. The game starts with a multi-stage solution puzzle even before leaving the house
- Red herrings are ok sometimes but in my opinion, there are far too many in this game. There are many hotspots that tell you "you can't use this at the moment" or something that never become used in the game. Considering that you have to guess as much as you do to solve the puzzles, that type of misleading was overboard
- Similarly, I personally don't care for the "stare at a wall and move the objects while trying to figure out what they do or represent" puzzles. I really was not enjoying it when I hit three of those in three consecutive rooms
- Moreover, many of the puzzles had technical problems, such as a cipher puzzle with overlapping mappings and characters that didn't exist on the key. People playing the game had to resort to German Wikipedia to solve that one...
I came very close to just deleting the game on one of those puzzles, which is something I've never done (with the exception of one game that was impossible to complete where the author couldn't figure out how to solve the glitch). My final statement on this topic: I usually solve about 85-95% of puzzles in games on my own with the rest requiring help from the forum. In this game the number is closer to 40%....
- I pointed out that the arcade areas gave variety to the game. However, as one poster kindly put it "the game mechanics aren't perfect". I'm happy to play those games but they really didn't work well. Perhaps some more testing would have helped.
- If you include nudity and sexual content, please consider posting a warning in the description so the player can exercise discretion.BUG LIST
- I pointed out that it's possible to be stuck in the game with no way to complete it if you did not take one specific action early in the game
- People pointed out the game halting when you use the wind
- The game crashed repeatedly when fighting the minotaurCONCLUSION:
As I've said, it's clear that a lot of work and planning went into this game. The author has a lot to be proud of for creativity and skill in designing the gameplay, environment, and art. The concerns I have relate to the technical aspects of the execution of the plan. Perhaps with more testing this game could have some of the glitches cleaned up and been a masterpiece.
Thank you for your hard work and I hope this gives you some areas to consider for your next game!
It goes without saying that all the foregoing is simply my own opinion and anyone is free to agree or disagree. I am curious to hear if other players (preferably those who have completed the game) shared this experience.