Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Nov 27th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under time travel, adventure, pc, point and click, fmv

The Journeyman Project: Turbo!

The Journeyman Project was developed by Presto Studios and released for Mac in 1993. The following year an enhanced version was released called The Journeyman Project: Turbo which was compatible with Mac and Windows. This Turbo release is the one being highlighted today. The original release was developed and published by Presto Studios, with the Turbo release being published by Sanctuary Woods. This version would also see a Japanese release published by Bandai. A few years later in 1997 a full blown remake of the game was released called The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime.

The Journeyman Project is a series of time traveling adventure games. The first one takes place entirely in fictional science fiction scenarios, with the game being set in the 24th century. On top of this home time area the player will end up traveling to a variety of locations throughout time, with none of them being familiar to the playing audience besides a vague dinosaur era of the past that serves as Temporal Security Agency's record keeping. These include Agent 5's apartments, the secret Temporal Security Annex location he works at, and multiple different time zones. Agent 5 ends up traveling to 199 million BC to get hold of a temporal record to check for any temporal shifts. After checking the differences in the historical record Agent 5 must make his way through a martian mining colony, an Australian global science convention, and a space station.

Turbo is a first person adventure game. Players have to click on the arrows to navigate the maps of the game. Most of the game's puzzles revolve around navigation, with only a couple examples of the classic logic style of adventure game puzzles. Players must navigate through various eras in time while avoiding contact with humans in order to maintain the proper timeline. There are also direct environmental hazards that can lead to Agent 5's death, such as walking off a cliff in the dinosaur era or running out of oxygen when in space or depressurized areas. Agent 5 must collect clues throughout the various times to figure out who is behind the strange disturbances in the timeline and also why, and by the end he uncovers a conspiracy to sabotage the young relationship that humans have with the various alien species of the Milky Way. The main weakness of the gameplay involves the aged interface, there is a lot of empty space likely due to how much the developers tried to make the actual game field as detailed as possible.

The Journeyman Project has 2D graphics that are made to convey a sense of 3D space. The visual design of the game has aged quite well, each area has its own identity and feels like what is meant to. The mining colony feels industrial, the space station feels empty and atmospheric, and the science convention feels like a futuristic scholarly expo, even with its heavy guards. The audio design is quite atmospheric, there are not too many music tracks in the game but it all fits. Slower exploration is when it is atmospheric and meditative. The action songs play during tense parts of the game to let the player know that time is of the essence and they should hurry along to the next proper objective. The game includes a few live action FMV cutscenes, but these are few and far between. They do not overwhelm the game and the few actors in the game perform quite well.

The Journeyman Project is a short but sweet game. Even a blind first run with plenty of experimentation and deaths can be beaten in 3-4 hours. This is a great adventure game for those who do not really wish to relive the extremely cryptic and complicated puzzles the genre is known for, and the few puzzles the game does include are pretty easy. Even the boss fights are puzzles and they involve a mixture of navigation and item usage. The original and Turbo releases cannot be purchased anymore, so the only option to play on a modern system is through original discs. The Pegasus Prime remake is available on Steam and GOG for $9.99, but its not a one to one remake of the first game, and has quite a few changes from the original. The game seems like an overlooked classic, as its a strong game and excellent start for what eventually became a trilogy.

The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time

This direct sequel was once again developed by Presto Studios and published by Sanctuary Woods. Buried in Time released in 1995, a year after the first game's Turbo release, and was built from scratch from the ground up since the first game did have a few technical issues on the development side when it released. Unlike the first game it received a simultaneous Mac and PC release from its initial release, as Presto Studios now had the funds to develop and release simultaneous versions. The first game was quite the success for the small company, and they looked forward to continuing that success with the sequel Buried in Time.

Set 6 months after the first game. Agent 5 is given a name, Gage Blackwood. He is approached by himself from 10 years in the future to get him out of a conspiracy that he is being framed for in order to cover it up. The TSA has upgraded its time traveling machines from a large cylindrical machine to individual suits for its agents, and each one of these suits is tied to the DNA of its assigned agent. Any usage of the suit that does not match the DNA of its agent ends up in the thief's death, which shows how much of a stroke of genius future Gage has in using himself to jump through time to look into all the evidence surrounding the circumstances of the events that lead to his arrest and imprisonment immediately after meeting his past self. While this story seems limited to personal issues it ends up having similar wide reaching political effects as the first game.

Buried in Time is quite similar to the first game, first person adventure. The game expands on the navigation system to allow players to look up and down. This is added into the navigation formula as players must look up or down stairs or off a ledge to be able to move forward, and to find items. The game includes many more puzzles than the first game, and it has a much wider variety. There are puzzles based around navigation, logic, and timing, but like the first game none of them are too difficult and the game provides plenty of tools for players to understand what they're facing. Like the first game its major weakness is its interface, there is still a lot of empty space and the actual game field is limited. The game field is larger and much more detailed than the first game, so improvements were made.

The graphics in Buried in Time are much improved over the first game. There are more FMV cutscenes in this game, with most of the scenes being some information that future Gage gives to his past self, and the INN news stories that players can watch in future Gage's apartment. The attempt to convey 3D space is much stronger than in the first game, and each location that is visited is detailed and feels accurate for its time period. Its quite impressive to see how much the graphics were improved in the two years since the first game's initial release. The much larger budget allocated to Buried in Time due to the success of the first game and its Turbo release is easily on display in this second game. The audio is almost entirely atmospheric in this second game, as there are no real boss fight puzzles in the sequel until late in the game, so the rocking guitar riffs that play from time to time in the first game are gone.

Buried in Time is an example of a video game sequel done right. The first game was a good foundation to build upon but the second improves upon the formula in almost every way in terms of gameplay design. The game is also much longer as a result of added depth to its design. Its easy for players to die in Buried in Time, or just get stuck from not having the right items. The extra ability to look up and down may make it harder for some players to catch everything that they need in every time period. The time periods also cannot be beaten in one go like in the first game, so backtracking is required. The fact that familiar historical settings are used instead of the entirely sci-fi settings of the first game can be seen as a strength or weakness depending on the player's personal opinion. The TSA protocol do make it where you do not actually come across any major historical figures, which can be a weakness since one of the main locations is Leonardo Da Vinci's lab. The game is available for digital purchase in its original form through GOG for $5.99.

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