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Style and attitude are two ingredients found in abundance throughout the first chapter of The Journey Down, a fresh HD reboot of a quirky freeware PC adventure that makes a comfortable transition to the touchscreen. A heavy Caribbean influence shows up through the catchy reggae soundtrack, the main characters' thick accents and more, giving this point-and-poke trek some fresh flavor. It's a nice change of pace from average genre fare.
Hard times have befallen brothers Bwana and Kito, and a lack of income is catching up to them. When the gas company shuts down their supply, and their airplane transport business hasn't been flying high for some time (thanks to a jet that's missing some key parts), the pair jumps at the opportunity to help out a new client with deep pockets. But there's a deeper conspiracy afoot that only begins to bubble to the surface in this first of several planned episodes.
Much of Chapter One revolves around exploring the city's docks and alleys to finagle and repair the parts needed to get the brothers' ailing bird off the ground. Though the scenes you explore are small, they're nicely detailed and cohesively designed. There's a lot of back and forth to juggle as you explore, but the visual variety helps. Beyond aesthetics, The Journey Down's accessible item-centric puzzles are intuitive enough to tackle without growing frustrated, yet challenge enough to make you think on them for a bit. Getting stuck isn't much of a problem, thankfully. Holding your finger to the screen also reveals hotspots to interact with, which graciously cuts back on the random poking in hopes of making something happen.
While the story itself remains buoyant with light humor even as the plot thickens, the bright personality and excellent voice work of the brothers doesn't quite carry over to some of the other main characters. A few side characters in particular are poorly voiced, and the audio quality of some doesn't quite add up in comparison to the main players. Still, things are well done on the whole.
The bottom line. The Journey Down's unique setup and well-implemented adventure gameplay gets the series off to a promising start.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Great visual design. Fun setting and characters. Intuitive puzzles.
Some of the character voice work isn't so hot.