Enter the pages of the hand painted world of Journal. A journey through the life of a young and troubled girl as she tries to face up to the choices and responsibilities that come with childhood. An experience that questions the reliability of how we choose to remember events and explores the truths hidden within our dreams.
User reviews: Very Positive (62 reviews)
Release Date: Feb 17, 2014

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About This Game

Enter the pages of the hand painted world of Journal. A journey through the life of a young and troubled girl as she tries to face up to the choices and responsibilities that come with childhood. An experience that questions the reliability of how we choose to remember events and explores the truths hidden within our dreams.

Journal is a narrative driven adventure game by Richard Perrin, the creator of Kairo and the white chamber, with art and writing by Melissa Royall.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Hard Drive: 250 MB available space
    • OS: OSX 10.6
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Hard Drive: 250 MB available space
    • OS: Ubuntu 10.10
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Hard Drive: 250 MB available space
Helpful customer reviews
52 of 57 people (91%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Personal Rating: "Grab it during a sale"
Traditional Rating: 5.5/10
Genre: Indie Adventure

I am not really sure what to make of indie darling Richard Perrin's (the maker of the wonderful puzzler Kairo) latest game - Journal. It's clear from the ending that it must have been a deeply personal project, but I am still not entirely convinced the adventure game medium was the best way to tell this tale. First things first - Journal is not much a game, but more an interactive choose-your-own adventure kind of experience. How you view this in relation to what you consider constitutes the act of gaming will greatly affect the way you will probably feel about the title. Most are probably going to be dismissive about it and that is perfectly fine since Journal exists in a tightly sealed niché vacuum. I am all for games expanding beyond the traditional shoot-to-kill or might-and-magic tropes that have become gaming's hobbyhorse of late but I am not convinced that Journal is going to be the one to breach those shores.

The game opens with an unnamed girl whose diary seems to have lost all its pages. Interrogating friends and family on the various topics that crop up or situations the young girl finds herself in will result in her journal once again fleshing itself out. These engagements will also start to give you some context into this young girls life. We soon learn that her parents are separated but we don't learn the truth behind this separation until the final stages of this brief adventure. The games central themes of loss and grief are slowly recorded within the journal but the problem here is that the journal, a central plot-device, is often left on the sidelines as we endure one too many angst-ridden teenage growing pain moments (the Diary of Adrian Mole this most certainly ain't).

Maybe I am just too old and I have forgotten what it must feel like to be a selfish teenager and all the drama that accompanies those evolving years, but I found I cared less and less about stolen snow globes, broken windows or cheating on math tests and even more so when I was trying to do good by helping a pair of school friends fall into love when beneath the surface of this action it did nothing but cut and scar my young protagonist's heart. There is a bigger theme at play here that eventually gives rise to the reasons why the young girl is behaving the way she is and I am not going to reveal it for those still interested in playing Journal. This late game reveal does try to ground the actions that preceded it, but in the end I found it didn't really move me.

There are some striking things to be found in Journal though. The carnival puppet show that moves each chapter along is engrossing and very well told, eventually tying into the games main story-line and one can't deny it does exude a certain British charm, even if that charm feels as though it has come direct to us from the 1950's. There is a human beating heart at the core of this game - it's just a pity that it's all so surface-level philosophy (ripped straight from psychology 101) than the actual tapping into of one of life's realities - that life can often be a tangled mess when concerned with the likes of human emotion. The game is accompanied by a lovely piano score that while often depressing to listen to suits the tone of the game quite well.

Journal asks that its user be a bit more introspective, but in the end the message it conveys is something one would more likely find written on a milk or cereal carton and that ultimately diminishes its power. Try it - if you dare to be different - but just don't expect your indie world to be spun off its axis.
Posted: July 13
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17 of 18 people (94%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Journal comes with few interesting features like visualization and music, and rely heavily on storytelling aspect. However story isn't that gripping or intriguing from start till the end, even though final "twist" helps a bit.

I personally didn't enjoy this game as much as i would like to, but quality is present.

Posted: July 11
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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
A very short and linear story about a teenage girl navigating through griefs of adolescence, some of them more intimate than others. The style is an appealing novelty, and the writing itself is solid, with great moments of poignancy as the days progress and the world broadens for you, but these positives are quickly bogged down by clunky controls, glitchy area transitions, and general code/etc hiccups. Still, I recommend picking it up at a substantial discount for the experience.
Posted: June 27
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8 of 10 people (80%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Journal is a very enjoyable inde adv game, It requires no real skill other than a willingness to explore the world and converse with the NPCs in it. Journal tells the story of an unnamed women, looking back on a difficult time in her child hood through her journal, which you are helping her write as you play. The unusual premise and the beautiful hand drawn children’s story book graphics are worth the price of admission alone. The story elements (divorce, death, friendship, coming of age) are never handled to deeply, but it was enough to cause me to think back on my life more than once as I played which is something very few video games have ever accomplished, its more like a good novel or movie in that way. The only game aspects are how you chose to answer questions (aggressive, guilty, positive, pessimistic), how much of the world you interact with, and how that changes your relationships along the way. None of this ever really changes the outcome, which will make sense once you play it and the story even addresses this at a point. If you enjoy adventure games and can have some empathy with a main character in fiction then you will enjoy Journal. Oh, and it plays great with a gamepad too.
Posted: June 22
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.3 hrs on record
In my opinion this game was a success. Im not going to tell you certain details of the game as I feel reviews shouldnt contain spoilers becuase many people buy games based upon the reviews and so will read them before hand.

I can tell you that this game is worth getting. Although journal is a short game its certainly worth the 6.99! A tale of a girl going though a hard time in her life is told in a very interesting and engaging fashion.
The artistic style is very simple and are crude scribbles relating to those a child might do, linking in to the main character, This i feel helps pull you in and make the story more immersive. The other style is a sharp animated puppet show at the end of each chapter in the game which breaks the game up into sections well. The two voice actors featured are very good. The voice of the girl is done excellently and really makes me believe what she was saying, The character doesn't voice all her lines which i like as when she does choose to speak it has more of an impact. The voice over the little puppet shows is also brilliantly cast, they have a natural narrative voice that put weight into the stories they told.

The controlls are simple and the overall game is simple and uncomplecated to. Its good for when you want to just relax and get involved in a hearttouching story. The message really came through for me and I can tell you I cried the first three times I played it. I'm not saying it's perfect and of course its not everyones cup of tea, If you like stratagy shooters then you will find your self very bored very quickly. However if you're into indie games or games with a strong story then this is for you 100%
Posted: June 10
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350 of 425 people (82%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Journals are personal things; housing our thoughts, experiences, and deepest secrets as we pour our hearts out into their pages. In a similar way Journal the game is also deeply personal to its developer, Richard Perrin, being kicked around for nearly a decade and only just coming to fruition after passing through numerous different forms and surviving setback after setback. It's a passion project that needed to see the light of day regardless of how long it took to do so, but as any artist should know, after spending so long with your creation it's easy to lose sight of where it's headed and what it has become. For all the time and devotion put into it, Journal is not the masterpiece its creator no doubt envisioned it to be, unfortunately materializing as something far less profound and memorable.

Journal is the story of a girl. A girl having a very hard time attempting to come to terms with the recent upheaval of her life, as well as the general pains of youth attempting to find who she is in the world. It's a melancholy tale that attempts to deal with heavy problems in a realistic, relatable manner, but for all its endeavors to tell a more down-to-earth story than you often see in games, it overplays its hand by throwing its character through far too many hardships without ever elaborating on any of them. It comes off as disingenuous and almost exploitative, like an outsider trying to explain someone else's troubles without anything more than a surface knowledge of what someone experiencing them actually feels like. It's hard to feel empathetic when events unfold like those of a soap opera; without any explanation or justification, only serving to move the narrative onto yet another contrived moment.

The cliches extend to the characters themselves, all of which encompass some form of clique or extreme to better fit into their role of providing the protagonist with a wall to bounce questions off of, with the answer being largely insignificance. One of my biggest issues with the characters and narrative on the whole is how it presents an illusion of choice with no real changes or consequences to speak of. Something you say may affect a handful of lines of dialog (usually not beyond the immediate scene) but the plot itself remains the same, with the most important moments being completely out of the player's control despite the dialog options continually alluding to something more, as if you actually have some control of the outcome.

The worst of these moments are those that retain pertinent information until after you've had to make seemingly important decisions, without being given the facts to do so. For example, early on a friend of your character is accused of breaking a window, an act she denies and you are inclined to agree with, only later finding out that you were the one who accused her in the first place (and as is soon revealed, actually broke the window and were hiding the blame). These revelations come too late though, as you are forced to choose a side prior to being made aware of what actually transpired. It's like walking into a play during the second act; you're expected to already know the characters, their motives, and the the events that have occurred.

By the end of the game I was thoroughly detached from the protagonist, as her actions became more selfish and out of character as the game progressed, and I was helpless to influence any of it or even be clued in as to WHY she was doing what she was. For what is essentially an adventure game with the puzzles and exploration removed, for the dialog and characters to be so uninteresting and half-baked made for an experience that felt hollow.

It might not seem it, but this was a hard review to write. I wanted so badly to be drawn into the beautiful artwork and somber soundtrack which seem so ready to compliment a deeper story than we've become accustomed to, but it all fell flat. Perhaps it's a side-effect of Journal's tumultuous development process, but something went awry and the end result is less than amazing. It's hard for me to pan something that was obviously close to its creator's heart, but when it is flawed at such a fundamental level I can't write it off as something that can be overlooked, but instead have to dismiss it as a whole. Like the journal from the title, it's almost as if large portions of the game simply vanished, leaving you with a shell of what might have once been.

Full disclosure: this game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer.
Posted: February 17
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