The Journey Down: Chapter One is a part of a larger graphic adventure that’s been divided into chapters. Given the episodic nature, Chapter One is tasked with laying the foundation for an intriguing tale, while also dangling a cliffhanger to make you want to continue with chapter two. Not only does it manage to do this successfully, but it does so in a wonderful way but not yielding to the modern day trends of its genre.

The Journey Down embraces what made this genre great in the first place; characters. Far too many point and click games of recent years have a disproportionate focus on puzzles, making the adventure feel a more lonely affair. But taking a cue from LucasArts heyday, The Journey Down: Chapter One quickly introduces you to a quirky cast of strong characters. You can tell the developers had a ball, from the leads to the smallest supporting roles. When you can remember even the bit players you know something was done right.  The lead, Bwana is such a good-natured guy, and both he and his brother Kito have real personality.

The game has a distinctive, afro-Caribbean look. Having the character face models inspired by African tribal masks was an interesting approach. It looks odd in still screenshots, but in-game I found I quickly got used to them. Occasionally the characters do stand out a bit against the hand-painted environments. The accompanying quality soundtrack (jazz reggae) is fitting, and plays in the background without being overbearing. However, the aesthetic, audio gem is the voice work.

First-rate, professional vocals really bring all the characters to life. Communicating with them is a joy, and any temptation to quickly advance the story by solving the next puzzle is tempered by the fact you’ll want to hear everything they have to say, and exhaust all of the speech choices. They really help the outskirts of Kingsport Bay feel alive, and I almost felt sad knowing that the story would eventually lead me to fly away from Bwana and Kito’s home. My only audio complaint is a fluctuation in volume. Headphones really are a must when playing away from the television.

More often than not, episodic releases are tricky to me. How quickly will the next game come out (if at all)? Will the price be fair for the content? In this case, chapters two and three followed not long after. I’ve waited to review all three games in succession at an unhurried pace. While I beat chapter one in under three hours, I have a lot of experience with this genre and the nature of eccentric puzzles it tends to offer. I think the content is fair for the current $9.99 price. It’s high-quality, has touch screen support, and no performance issues of note save for the audio inconsistencies.

The Journey Down: Chapter One is surprisingly involved for a smaller introduction of a larger tale. The story is easy to follow, but definitely has its share of surprises. It’s a fulfilling download, and refreshing in that it can successfully imitate in the true sense what made point and click graphic adventures great to begin with. SkyGoblin has a winner here. If you missed it over the summer, give it a look now.