Voyage Review (PS5) – A short and simple game with a nice aesthetic

Journey Review PS5 Review – When I read the synopsis of Voyage, I was immediately intrigued. On paper, Voyage is a co-op-oriented 2D adventure game that is primarily non-violent, with an emphasis on cinematic storytelling, without the use of dialogue or written text.

Combining this with the beautiful images you see in the screenshots, I immediately had the feeling that adventurous have a hidden gem on their hands.

The very first game of Venturous makes all the right first impressions. However, with what is ultimately a very short runtime, can Voyage fulfill the potential of its audacious premise?

Voyage Review (PS5) – A short and simple game with a nice aesthetic

Shared exploration

In Voyage, two survivors from a distant world are tasked with uncovering the mystery of the planet they find themselves stranded on and, more importantly, finding a way back home.

As a solo player, you take control of the two nameless protagonists. However, the co-op option is also available, which I think is the most sought-after experience.

The main characters lack identity, and there is no gameplay difference in who you decide to play, at any point in the game. Controlling the two characters is very simple.

Anyone you don’t actively control will automatically follow and provide contextual assistance, unless you tell them to stop with a button press.

You can switch characters instantly and even have them hugged. If you’re not sure what to do next, press triangle to point you in the right direction, which is a nice accessibility addition.

You navigate the world by moving across the screen, while the game lets you contextually crouch to progress, if necessary.

While participating in a few minor puzzles, you’ll interact with certain points of interest in the environment, move objects, and soar to otherwise inaccessible heights, without your trusted partner.

A combination of these mechanics provides the gameplay for each puzzle in the game, which, despite its extremely short runtime of less than 2 hours, had a distinct lack of variety.

The puzzles themselves won’t provide much of a challenge, and they’re not meant to. They’re more than a way to gently guide you through the beautifully painted levels.

hand painted planet

The hand-painted environments provide a beautiful backdrop for play. Each level has a unique aesthetic, which individually stand out from each other, not only due to the stunning designs, but also the superb use of distinctive colors.

When exploring an abandoned spaceship, sand dunes, or a field of bright green grass, the art is always on point and truly creates a sense of wanderlust.

The combination of the stunning hand-painted art and the jovial and often whimsical soundtrack creates a dreamlike quality that fits perfectly with Voyage’s aesthetic.

Since the game has no dialogue, the overall aesthetic is key, to convey emotion and create a sense of place, which they have mostly achieved.

Venturous set out to create a 2D cinematic experience, and with its incredible art, excellent soundtrack, they did just that.

The animations for the ghostly, aquatic, ancestral characters and inhabitants of this lost planet have a stop-motion appearance. Which goes a long way in giving Voyage that cinematic presentation that Venturous was looking for.

However, it looks better than feels.

Beyond the enchanting soundtrack composed by Callum Bowenthe sound design is quite minimalistic, which aligns with the overall theme of storytelling used throughout the game.

A sound will sound to signify a level change, such as the completion of a puzzle. You’ll hear wildlife sounds here and there, which helps give the world some depth.

Minimalist and interpretive storytelling

When it comes to storytelling in Voyage, it’s clear the developers have gone for a minimalistic approach. As mentioned earlier, there is no dialogue, written or spoken.

Instead, the game entirely resits on the world behind the characters to tell its story, which helps to highlight the amazing art and vice versa.

You’ll notice hieroglyphic images carved into the walls, as ghostly ancestral spirits move in and out of the levels. This environmental storytelling is meant to provide insight into the plot.

In addition to its vague narrative being told through environmental storytelling, save for significant ending moments, Voyage is highly interpretive.

Throughout the game, the two main characters follow what looks like a white rabbit, which seems to serve as a guide.

While the vague nature is intentional, there were times when I would have preferred a bit more clarity. Although I mostly enjoy drawing my own conclusions.

It helped the game stay with me afterwards, when it might not have been otherwise.

Inauguration trip

I’m happy to note that I haven’t encountered any bugs during my time with Voyage. There is no replay value, and there need not be. If the game were longer, the lack of variety with its puzzles would prove more problematic.

In fact, you’ll more than likely unlock the Platinum Trophy within its 2 hour runtime, which is sure to please trophy hunters.

Voyage is Venturous’ first attempt at making a game, and while I felt a noticeable lack of variety in the puzzles in it, I admire the bold storytelling ideas.

Otherwise, Venturous has created a wonderful, incredibly aesthetic world. Voyage is an audiovisual treat, which makes me eager to see what the studio does next.

Review code courtesy of the publisher.

Voyage is available now on PS5 and PS4.

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Raymond I. Langston