Away: Journey to the Unexpected

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Title: AWAY: Journey to the Unexpected
Developer: Aurelien Regard Games
Publisher: PLAYDIUS
Website: https://away-the-game.com/
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Action, First-Person Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: 7+
Release Date: 07/02/19
Price: £14.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

What the Developers say

Welcome to a feel-good FPS! A colorful adventure combining action, negotiation and rogue-lite elements.

You play as a kid that is neither a hero nor a warrior. Yet with the power of friendship, you will overcome every obstacle in your way!

Choose your path through the levels, uncover the light-hearted story, and above all, recruit allies. All the wacky and powerful characters you meet can be played in first person, and it’s up to you to find the right answers to get them to join your team!

  • Idiotic workmen, mysteries from outer space, oddball friends, and fast combat await!
  • Journey around a colorful world featuring unique visuals, with 2D characters living in a 3D world.
  • Unravel a funny and light-hearted story, with just the right pinch of rogue-lite elements.
  • Befriend and play a large variety of quirky characters, all against the backdrop of the anime-themed soundtrack composed by Kazuhiko Naruse!

Introduction

AWAY is one that pretty much took me by surprise, playing as a nameless kid you wake up in your bedroom where you live with your grandparents. Your parents haven’t come home from “work” so you set out to investigate their whereabouts, there’s also murmurings of a small alien invasion. Thus your journey begins.

Upon initial investigation you’ll notice a lot of doors will be closed off to you from the beginning, each of them labelled with a numbered amount of stars required; this will all become clear the more you progress. There’s a real mixture of gameplay elements to get to grips with, it’s a first-person adventure set against 3D environments, but you’ll be mingling and battling with 2D enemies and friends. The battle system borrows its roots from RPG elements, gaining experience the more you progress and unlocking unique rewards the longer you play.

Looks and Sounds

The graphical approach is somewhat distinctive as it meshes two styles; 3D and 2D. The landscapes and environments you travel between are all detailed in 3D whereas the characters you interact with and enemies are entirely 2D, they’re very much classically cartoon style drawings. I wasn’t sure what to make of that at first, but the more I played, the more I found it was entirely fitting for the game.

The clue is in the title, Journey to the Unexpected and with these small details to the gameplay and overall look it does make your time spent playing feel all the more memorable. There is a strong influence drawn from anime in the main menu which deserves mention, if you don’t select any of the options you’re treated to a short animated scene which will give you a little hint as to what to expect from the game. While I wish there was more of this featured throughout, it’s a nice addition.

The music is very atmospheric, you could be listening to the peaceful sounds of the forest, the birds singing and rivers running or be facing off against giant robots with the sounds of industrial metal and crane works. Each area has a particular sound and style, and the music fits well, building up as you enter closer to any boss battles.

Gameplay and Replayability

Within your grandparents home, there are different doors locked behind obtaining a certain number of stars, obtaining these stars is one of the main elements behind reaching the door to the final boss. You’ll only have access to one area at the beginning of the game, but you’re alerted that there have been some strange intruders trying to break into your basement. Hence you go to investigate; this will set you off on your adventure.

You’re armed with just a stick for battling your enemies, this may sound like quite a small weapon, but it packs a mean jab and with the help of a few friends along the way things can become easier. Within each of the different environments you’ll meet new characters, if you can befriend them and add them to your party, you can use them as secondary characters. Each one has a unique ability, for example being able to one-shot kill your enemies with a golden gun or using carefully placed bombs which explode on enemy contact. Once you’ve befriended a new character, you gain a star, and thus the more stars and characters you have on board the more areas are unlocked and different doors within your grandparents home.

It’s not quite as easy; it sounds as saying the wrong thing will mean they may not want to join your party, which leads me onto one of the most interesting aspects of the game. If you die at any point you are sent back to your grandparents home, essentially acting as the main hub, but not before you collect a heap of experience for the time spent battling enemies and meeting new friends. You only gain experience upon your death, which on paper sounds like a bit of a strange idea but it works incredibly well. The rewards for the experience gained range from starting with an extra life heart, new shortcuts being opened and new combat abilities; it’s a unique and rewarding aspect that makes you feel progression in an exciting way.

The environments you’ll discover are your standard RPG affair, you’ve got lush green meadows, arctic temperatures and dry, dry deserts amongst others. Within each area is a large door which will require you to complete three mini dungeons before heading through, the dungeons are also randomly generated so having to replay the same areas multiple times doesn’t get too repetitive.

Conclusion

AWAY: Journey to the Unexpected is a slow burner, but if you want to invest the time into meeting all of your new friends and exploring every area the game has to offer it’s a deeply rewarding experience. While the combat can feel a little lacklustre, it is sometimes hard to decipher just how close you need to be to an enemy to make contact, the cheery visuals and interesting character designs make this a very enjoyable adventure/RPG game for the Switch.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase Away: Journey to the Unexpected from the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Away-Journey-to-the-Unexpected-1254675.html#Overview

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