Developer - Broken Rules
Publisher - Broken Rules
Platform - Android, Mac, Windows, iOS [version tested]
Price - £4.99
Genre - Puzzle
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first: Old Man's Journey will last you two hours, tops. It has little to no replay value. There is no dialogue, neither written nor spoken. There is no action of any kind: no car chases, no guns, not even jumping. We're still going to recommend it and, if it hadn't been for To The Moon, it'd be the best story I'd have played this year so far.
Your task is to guide the titular Old Man - whom I nicknamed 'Olders' - on his... yeah, you're way ahead of me. This is achieved by raising or lowering any piece of land that Olders is not standing on until a path is made that he can use. You then tap the screen to drop a marker that he will head towards, if he is able. Each of the fifteen levels ends when Olders finds somewhere to sit down, at which point you tap some on-screen object to trigger a flashback. The story is delivered in these moments, which split the game up well. You could easily do a level and get a chunk of story in one ad break or Tube journey.
The first thing that strikes you is that it is utterly gorgeous. The animation is fluid and levels are packed with colour and detail, as you can see above. Tapping the screen is not just reserved for the end of a level: you can interact with pretty much anything in the environment. Birds fly away at your prod, radios whistle and fizz, NPC's make some lazy and languid movements. It's a visual fiesta at every turn, even when the game (slightly jarringly) shifts into close-ups.
The music is also suitably calm and jovial, with many an uplifting moment, though the mood changes when the weather gets stormy. The sound effects are surprisingly realistic, with appropriate crunches and shuffles when Olders puts his pack on the floor and sits down. The soundtrack isn't quite as spell-binding as the aforementioned To The Moon's but it fits the mood and tone well.
Old Man's Journey's main attraction is the story. A straightforward tale told in a linear fashion it might be, but it's also very warm, earnest and emotional. Some other reviewers have said they were moved to tears; I have to report that I wasn't, although I was fairly close at the very end. In short, an experimental title that has come off brilliantly - there should be more games like this.
Final Verdict: Two hours entertainment for five pounds, which is a better rate than the cinema these days. That's appropriate, because this is the gaming equivalent of a classic silent film: a great story told without words. An enchanting game that deserves your support, Old Man's Journey is a trip well worth taking.