Northern Journey - happysadness, weirdness and wilderness

The indie thread is a whitewater river of links, thoughts and discussions rushing past and Northern Journey deserves a sturdy raft for us so here’s a thread!

It took me a couple of hours to get into the spirit of Northern Journey, at least as far as the gameplay is concerned. However, the visuals, music and atmosphere grabbed me immediately. It’s primarily an exploration game with quirky and pretty twitchy first-person shooting involving slings and bows and throwables, but what makes it stand out for me is the sense of place, the weird inhabitants and how it feels like a proper journey. It does one of my favourite things too of mentioning places that sound intriguing then later… you visit them. I love that.

I’ve just come out of Trollhole and it’s been a long time since I had that Down in the Bonehoard/Blighttown/Valley of Defilement feeling of coming up for air. You know the one.

I keep getting Shadow of the Beast vibes too. I think it’s the music, the sense of melancholy in what feels like an expansive and alien land, and the exploration/action/platforming/puzzling mix. It’s not wide open but at the same time it doesn’t feel strictly linear either, which means the pacing is good while giving you some wiggle room to poke around.

Northern Journey has made me jump unexpectedly quite a few times now too. It’s not a jump scary game, it’s just hard to pinpoint when something new is lying in wait, and the sounds can be quite alarming themselves. I’m looking at you bell-wearing tick-infested sheep. Argh!

Onwards to Nokkpond, presumably where I’ll meet the thumbnail beastie!

I couldn’t figure out how to get the controller to work.

I should try this game again with the keyboard and mouse. Hopefully it supports look inversion.

It doesn’t support controllers. Solved!

I wouldn’t say I jumped, but when in Greenhill (Greenlit?) the rafter turned into a witch I panicked a little and tried to shoot (unsuccessfully, of course). Unnerving!

Yeah, exactly that kind of thing! That moment when the oar gets chucked…

Greenslit is where I fell under the game’s spell. The scale, the verticality, the ziplines and pathways going everywhere, the hints of new locations and a repeater weapon. The music!

As a fellow invertee, it does!

That’s the best track in the game for sure. If you guys don’t know the ost is in the game folder as mp3s.

I’m about half an hour into this and it’s… weird. I wasn’t expecting it to be as lo-fi as it is, which was a shock in the opening moments. But it ends up working strongly in its favor, and the characters and creatures look unnatural in a way that’s deeply upsetting rather than cheap-looking.

I’m getting a strong Popol Vuh vibe from the music, and when combined with the fog and terrain, it reminds me a lot of the opening to Aguirre, the Wraith of God:

I don’t know how geggis could make this thread and not post the awesome (and short) “making of” video the dev put out:

I still have no idea wtf “happysad” means in this or maybe any context.

Krazykrok sold me on this one back during the winter sale but I still haven’t tried it out. What am I waiting for?! Perhaps I was waiting for this thread…

Yeah that was pretty much my arc with it early on. Deadwell is a lot on arrival! A village idiot, a dog and leashed snake, witches, a clueless sheriff and a scary prisoner, a tax evader in stocks being punished by someone with a blowpipe, a creepy church and… little folk coming out of the ground. Oh and the only doctor on this side of the mountain.

I can totally see that with Aguirre, Wrath of God too.

Hah! I started watching it but there were a few too many scenes I hadn’t seen, so I’m saving that for after I’ve played it.

And me neither on ‘happysad’ but it helped the thread title!

It’s the feeling of sending your first child away for college.

Does combat remain a big part of this throughout? I’m in the third area now and that aspect of it hasn’t been particularly enjoyable.

I don’t think there’s a lot to the game other than walking around and hurling projectiles.

Man, like three other creepy things happened to me tonight. That’s not even counting this:

Question: are you supposed to be able to get the shield at the bottom of the “lift” you go down after using the Ropewheel Key and dodging the witch initiate on the bridge by jumping? I have tried a bunch of times but just barely can’t make it, but I’m not sure there’s another way over there.

Well, I found my way to that, and then while searching through the maze that is Greenslit for the shield room again I stumbled on a half of a headlamp. The trouble is, I know I already found of these some time ago, but when I found this one I still got the message about finding another to fix it. wtf

I’m still wading through Nokkpond and Nokk is incredibly unnerving.

I must have reloaded a save and skipped the first half of the headlamp the second time because I went back and grabbed it and am on to Trollhole.

Oh no… not that place.

I don’t even know why I’m going there!

For some reason I thought you were ahead of me so… uh, yeah, glad you worked out all those things! :)

The second part of the headlamp is quite sneakily hidden.