There a lot of mobile games being ported to the Switch, and I’ve played quite a bit of them. Most of them are overpriced messes that have no business being on Nintendo’s latest console. That said, every once in a while, there comes a mobile game that bucks that trend by being an unadulterated good game (after all, I can’t rave about Cat Quest enough).
That brings us to Old Man’s Journey. It’s definitely a mobile game, but it’s not quite like any other I’ve played. Where does it stand among mobile ports on the Switch?
Coming to the Foreground
I’ll talk about the gameplay first because it’s clearly not the focus of Old Man’s Journey. That said, Broken Rules put together an interesting mechanic to make it feel unlike any other game I’ve ever played. Old Man’s Journey is a puzzle game where you’ll figure out how to get from the foreground to the background and vice versa.
You can change the environment by adjusting the height of the hills that surround you. If the hills intersect, then you’re given a point where you can jump through layers. The game does a good job of making you think with this mechanic, but it never overstays its welcome. With this simple idea in place, it’s also difficult to get stuck. Just give it a few minutes, and you’ll figure it out in due time.
If there’s any complaint I have with this game, it’s that the menu designs are extremely basic when compared to the rest of the game, and there’s practically no replay value. Priced at $9.99, some people may not find that worth the cost.
Old Man’s Journey tells the story of (you guessed) it an old man going on a journey. While in his house on a hill overlooking the waters, he gets an envelope, reads it, quickly grabs his stuff together, and heads out. Where is he going? The game doesn’t tell you. As a matter of fact, the game doesn’t tell you anything. Everything you learn about the Old Man and his adventure is told through visuals only, which was an undeniably smart move.
As you progress through each locale, you’ll quickly notice how artistically gorgeous this game is. Everything looks like a painting and is all extremely pleasing to the eye. Periodically throughout the game, the old man will sit down on a bench and see something that reminds him of his past. Immediately, you’re taken to a single image of an event in his life. Holy cow are these images some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen in a game. These paintings pop and instantly command your attention. Whether it’s something as small as a man meeting a woman for the first time, Broken Rules knows how to craft a beautiful shot.
The flashback images aren’t just there for looks either, each one of them carefully tells you about the old man’s life, how he ended up in a house by himself, and where his journey will lead him (all without words, mind you). As the story unfolded, I was desperate to see more and wonder how the game would resolve it.
I’m happy to say that the game delivers on the ending it sets up, both leaving a pit and warmth in your stomach. You can really sense the regret on the old man’s face as he looks back at the last few decades of his life and wonders what he could’ve done differently. It’s a simple yet compelling tale.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Old Man’s Journey was provided by Broken Rules.