Flip The Page: Journey Through The Problems Of A Young Girl In Journal

journal

Since around sometime in 2008, Richard Perrin and Melissa Royall have been working on and off on Journal for their own reasons, and I’m surprised that when they finally got around to showing it at PAX last week, they weren’t expecting the positive reaction it ended up receiving. Richard writes on his blog that he “was totally prepared for people to be bored or disinterested in the game and so couldn’t believe how excited people seemed to be.” I love this kind of unexpectancy among developers, though, and I guess when you’ve been working on a game for so long, and so intermittently too, it’s hard to tell how good or bad it actually is.

Now is the right time for Journal to appear on people’s radars. I think that this is probably the most opportune time for a game like this to interest people, just because it’s the kind of experience that people seem to be after, and if done well, they’re more than happy to invest in it. Years previous to this, it probably would have done fairly well, but right now, it’s hitting a sweet spot, I think. I’m going off on one again, aren’t I?

So anyway, Journal could be a touching experience, perhaps, because it has you following a young girl as she travels through life experiencing the many problems and issues that a child does. I’m not sure how harrowing or serious the game is in itself, but there’s potential there – though given the game’s presentation, I don’t think the intention is for this to be an upsetting social commentary or something vaster. The vibe I get is that this is more of an innocent tale that explores the musings we go through during childhood, a sort of pleasant reminiscing of how things used to be perceived through gentler eyes.

Journal


“A journey through the life of a young and troubled girl as she tries to face up to the choices and responsibilities that come with childhood.”


Interestingly, although Journal is an adventure game, it contains no arbitrary puzzles that are intended to leave you stumped for a while in order to up the gameplay hours. The focus is entirely on the act of character interaction. It’s about forming relationships and the process of how we do that, and also how decisions we make may affect those relationships, with or without our knowing. Make of this next bit what you will, but Journal is also said to explore “the reliability of how we choose to remember events and explores the secrets hidden within dreams.”

I’m wondering if that latter bit has something to do with how the game is presented. You’ll notice in the screenshots and the game’s trailer that the game world is actually two-fold. The young girl that you control is literally inside a journal that comes with a child’s drawing look to it. And to travel between the various locations, you have to flick the pages. So the question that I’m pondering is who are we playing outside of this journal – if that matters at all. Is this the young girl looking back at her childhood through her drawings, perhaps? And I have to wonder whether you ever break outside of the journal, in a similar way to Atum, and bring in objects from the world beyond it. So I’m interested to see what happens with Journal for a number of reasons, and as far as announcements go, that’s pretty much doing its job.