Sci-fi adventure game Original Journey entices with its hand-drawn pencil art of alien mutant egg creatures. And luckily, they feel as good to bombard with cannons as they do to look at.
In Original Journey, out now on Steam, you are a young member of an endangered species who, despite being late to one of your first assignments as a soldier, gets in with your boss when he learns you're a great body shield. After picking up a few weapons, you're dispensed to a series of asteroids to combat swarms of space bugs, rock snakes and mean little mutants that explode from eggs. The goal is to find the Origin Stone, which is said to have enough energy to return life to your race's homeworld.
A lot of Original Journey is like a tower defence game in which the tower is a mountainous platformer level. At its heart, the game is simple: Take down enemies, collect resources, upgrade your stuff — with a few off-kilter puzzle or racing missions thrown in. There are very few controls. It's also deceptively difficult.
Enemy hordes grow bigger and block off safe zones, ammo runs out. Dodging and strategising around environmental dangers (thorns, pits) takes some dexterity, as does finding the best place to drop a turret. Battles are short, smooth and kinetic. Several levels took many trying attempts to master. Luckily, gorgeous backgrounds of alien forests and craggy asteroids make moments of certain death less angering.
A few hours in, there isn't much original about Original Journey aside from how it looks. That's fine; its comic book aesthetic and easy-to-understand controls advertise its consistently compelling gameplay well enough.