Journey On is a combat-focused RPG Maker game where strategy matters more than stats.
Developer: BLACK MAGIC
Publisher: BLACK MAGIC
Release date: 7 Oct, 2021
Journey On is an RPG Maker game that focuses on choice with adjustable difficulty. The difficulty will vary depending on how you limit yourself in using a character’s skill, which will also affect the ending.
The game might look similar to other RPG Maker games because of the default, RTP assets, although it also uses some customized assets in it. The most apparent one is in the portraits that are replaced with anime-styled characters. Speaking of customization, the battle screen is also neat and clean-looking. It shows everything that you need while removing the excess boxes that are commonly seen in other RPG Maker games.
The dev also nailed a good job on the mappings. Areas don’t look too vast nor small with a lot of variations in them. I never got bored walking around the area despite me traveling through the same themed map for a long time.
This might come as a surprise for a game that boasts of multiple endings, but there isn’t much to be told about the story. Interactions are only limited to small talk between either NPCs or the main characters whenever they are resting for the night. Emoticons become the most used method to express characters’ feelings, letting you figure out what happened to the story on your own. It makes the story unique, although this also makes the story to be lacking in depth as a result.
Endings are too similar. The dev claimed that there are 4 endings, and while I only managed to find 2 throughout my playthrough, the only difference between both of them is on the final boss mechanic. There might be slight alterations of the dialogues in the epilogue, but they look so forced to make them different. It’s not worth it to play the game again just for the other endings.
The game is focused on exploring the area and beating bosses that are blocking your way. The lack of dialogue helps to shift the game’s focus in exploration and combat, and it does a good job at it. A lot of secrets are hidden beneath the area, forcing you to explore every corner of the map to find them. They usually reward you with some items, whether it’s a weapon or a skill book, which help in combat.
The skill usage limitation on one of the characters might hinder you from experiencing everything the game has to offer. There is one character that contributes to the ending that you’ll get, and the ending is affected by how many MP was used to cast a skill. This limits the said character from overusing her skill, forcing a magic-type character to use a physical attack instead. While it still works to some extent due to the stat distribution, some parts of the exploration require you to use this character’s skill to reach a secret area and hints for boss fights. It seems as if the dev doesn’t want people to reach the good ending at their first playthrough despite offering similar content in both.
There is a mechanic called darkness affinity that becomes one of the important factors for the ending, but the game never makes it clear on how to increase it. I only realized that my run was screwed since I already used a lot of MP outside battle for exploration purposes after doing some testing, and there is no way I would pay attention to it if not for an achievement description. The thing is, there isn’t any difference in the game’s content to justify another playthrough, and achievement hunters are bound to aim for the best ending at their first playthrough as a result.
Combat is what the game excels at. First of all, the game has touch encounters with a 100% escape chance. This might not sound important at first, but since the game encourages you not to use skills if needed, it is important to reach the healing point as often as possible. Luckily, healing points are abundant. This changes the exploration part into running away from all enemies that you find to reach the next healing point. To be honest, battles are kinda slow, so I’m glad that I could just ditch them all without feeling guilty about it.
In battle, gears are more important than stats. Different weapons give different skills that you can use, forcing you to alternate between them to finish the fight quickly. Switching between several weapons in battle is a common thing to do if you want to maximize your damage, although you need to wait for some turns before you can switch it again. Moreover, some enemies can only be hit by a certain type of damage, giving another reason to switch your weapon as you fight.
Bosses have unique mechanics. The variations give a reason to use a certain weapon in battle, although you might need to fight it several times before you know what to do. It was fun figuring out how the enemies are doing and formulating a strategy to beat them. Moreover, the MP usage limitation gives more challenges to the fight. I always try to refight the bosses to find out if I could defeat it with less MP.
Length and Difficulty
I finished the game in 9.6h. I replayed the game from the beginning after playing it for 3.1h since I thought that I couldn’t get a good ending from that save. The rest of my playtime was spent checking the other endings and looking for the rest of the achievements.
The game’s difficulty depends on how much MP are you willing to spend. Bosses are quite easy to beat if you just want to spam skills, although there might be a limitation in the character’s maximum MP – the base MP is very low, and upgrading the MP pool will prevent you from getting the good ending. I even had to retry some bosses several times after my party got wiped and sometimes, I even had to rely on luck to beat them without using too much MP. However, bosses become very easy to beat once you know what to do and are willing to spend MP.
Sometimes, the game won’t allow me to select a target in battle after I alt-tabbed it.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
The only thing that I remember from playing Journey On is how good the combat is. Combat is solid with the weapon switching mechanic, giving a unique feeling to each fight. A harder difficulty in this game doesn’t mean a tougher and bulkier enemy. Heck, you don’t even need to grind to defeat the bosses at all. The limitation from reaching the good ending might be annoying since you need to limit yourself from using the skills that you can use, but the game is fairly easy in general. At the end of the day, Journey On still proves to be a satisfying experience and I could recommend it to those who like RPG Maker games that are focused on combat.