Voyage Review PS5 Review – When I read the synopsis of Voyage, I was instantly intrigued. On paper, Voyage is a co-op orientated 2D adventure game, that is primarily non-violent, with a focus on cinematic storytelling, without the use of any dialogue or written text.
Combining that with the beautiful imagery that you see in screenshots, I immediately got the feeling that Venturous have a hidden gem on their hands.
Venturous’ first ever game makes all the right first impressions. However, with what is ultimately a super short runtime, can Voyage fulfill the potential of its bold premise?
Voyage Review (PS5) – A Short And Simple Game With A Beautiful Aesthetic
In Voyage, two survivors on a distant world are tasked with uncovering the mystery of the planet they find themselves stranded on, and more importantly, finding a way to get back home.
As a solo player, you take control of both the unnamed protagonists. However, the option for co-op is also available, which I think is the more intended experience.
The lead characters lack identity, and there’s no gameplay differences in who you decide to play as, at any point in the game. Controlling both characters is very simple.
Whoever you are not actively controlling will automatically follow and contextually provide assistance, unless you tell them to stop with the press of a button.
You can change between the characters instantly, and even have them hug. If you can’t work out what to do next, pressing triangle will point you in the right direction, which is a nice accessibility addition.
You navigate the world, moving across the screen, as the game provides contextual crouching to progress, if necessary.
Whilst partaking in some minor puzzles, you will be interacting with certain points of interest within the environment, moving objects, and lifting each other up to what would be otherwise unattainable heights, without your trusty partner.
A combination of these mechanics provides the gameplay for every puzzle in the game, which despite its extremely short runtime of under 2 hours, presented a distinct lack in variety.
The puzzles themselves won’t provide much challenge, nor are they intended to. They are more just a means to gently guide you through the wonderfully painted levels.
Hand Painted Planet
The hand painted environments provide a beautiful backdrop for the game. Every level has a unique aesthetic, that all individually stand out from each other, not only due to the gorgeous designs, but the superb use of distinctive colours.
When exploring a derelict spaceship, sand dunes, or a bright green field of grass, the art always delivers, and really creates a sense of wanderlust.
Combining the stunning hand painted art, with the jovial, often whimsical soundtrack, creates a dreamlike quality that perfectly fits the aesthetic of Voyage.
Given the game has no dialogue, the overall aesthetic is vital, in conveying emotion, and creating a sense of place, which they have mostly achieved.
Venturous set out to create a cinematic 2D experience, and with its incredible art, excellent soundtrack, they did just that.
The animations for the characters, and the ghostly, watery, ancestral inhabitants of this lost planet, have a stop-motion like appearance. Which greatly assist in giving Voyage that cinematic presentation, that Venturous were going for.
However, it looks better than feels.
Beyond the enchanting soundtrack composed by Callum Bowen, the sound design is fairly minimalist, which aligns with the overall theme of the storytelling used throughout the game.
A sound will play to signify a change in the level, such as successfully completing a puzzle. You’ll hear some wildlife noises here and there, which helps in giving the world some depth.
Minimalist And Interpretive Storytelling
When it comes to storytelling in Voyage, it’s clear the developers have opted for a minimalist approach. As mentioned before, there is no dialogue, written or spoken.
Instead, the game entirely relies on the world behind the characters to tell its story, which helps highlight the incredible art and vice versa.
You’ll notice hieroglyphic imagery etched onto the walls, as ghostly ancestral spirits fade in and out of levels. This environmental storytelling aims to provide an outline of the plot.
On top of its vague narrative being told through environmental storytelling, barring the significant ending moments, Voyage is very much interpretative.
Throughout the game, the two lead characters are following, what looks like, a white rabbit, which seems to act as a guide.
Whilst the vague nature is intentional, there were moments I’d have preferred a bit more clarity. Although, I mostly quite appreciate coming to my own conclusions.
It helped the game stay with me after, whereas it might not have otherwise.
I’m happy to note that I experienced no bugs in my time with Voyage. There is no replay value, and there doesn’t need to be. If the game were any longer, the lack of variety with its puzzles would prove to be more of an issue.
In fact, you will more than likely unlock the platinum trophy in its 2 hour runtime, which will certainly please the trophy hunters out there.
Voyage is Venturous’ first attempt at creating a game, and whilst I did feel a noticeable lack of variety in puzzles that are there, I admire the bold ideas when it comes to storytelling.
Furthermore, Venturous did create a wonderful world, that is incredibly aesthetically pleasing. Voyage is an audiovisual treat, that makes me excited to see what the studio will do next.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.
Voyage is now available on PS5 and PS4.