Journey of a Roach is not much of a journey but a short stroll.
Daedalic Entertainment presents Kobold Games’ first venture in the point-and-click genre and manages to pack in a lot of character in a short amount of time: Jim and Bud are two roaches who manage to survive in a nuclear wasteland full of strange creatures including fascist ants, giant fish and hippy fire flies. The apocalyptic story is juxtaposed with a comedic tone lent by the comic book-esque paneling and cartoon style that carries throughout the game. While the abandoned bunker backdrop is eye-catching for its charming clutter, the player’s journey contains some speed bumps along the way that make Journey of a Roach hard to enjoy at times.
Jim, our avatar, is a naive and kind roach who helps his friend Bud from time to time. As Bud falls deeper and deeper into the bunker, Jim must find and rescue him. For his short quest, Jim collects items on the ceiling and enters new areas by crawling on the walls. Controlling Jim in these scenarios proved to be more challenging than intended. Since Jim is able to crawl on most surfaces, I found myself unsure when an objective would be achieved by crawling on the walls, only to find Jim caught behind a set of stairs. After playing with a gamepad, this minor annoyance became even more frustrating, especially in puzzle solving that requires some level of precision.
The directions given through Jim’s thought bubbles, while adorable at times, only lead to more confusion. All the open puzzle sequences invoke an obtuse logic reminiscent of early adventure games, with seemingly erratic chains of events that are even further confused by the lack of dialogue and the necessity to procure irrelevant objects that require tedious surveys of each environment to find. Communication is not clear and in tandem with the unclear inventory system, I felt the puzzles become a series of chores and not rewarding brain challenges that make point-and-click games enjoyable.
However, lengthy stalls in the environment allow for the appreciation of Journey of a Roach’s setpieces – all which display distinct character and style – as well as the great character design for the odd cast of characters. The characters are enticing enough that I want to learn more about the fascist ants or why the old lady spider takes care of baby flies, but none of these potential jumping off points are explored. It quickly becomes clear there are really no side objectives, and as soon as Bud is saved, the credits roll. The developer put in enough pieces for the world to be whole but in a genre where world building is key to making me want to finish frustrating sections but there is little pay off. This is even more unfortunate because you are rewarded with a small section of funny motion comics upon solving the difficult puzzles that illuminate how much interesting story details could have been drawn from just the two principal characters.
Journey of a Roach is an enjoyable experience because the apocalyptic world is full of character even though at times the game fails to meet its potential. The design of the puzzles and the less than accurate controls make this game hard to recommend even to point-and-click adventure enthusiasts.
This review is based on retail STEAM code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.