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:
Overall:
Very Positive (288 reviews) - 80% of the 288 user reviews for this game are positive.
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

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: OSX 10.6
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 10.10
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Overall:
Very Positive (288 reviews)
Recently Posted
[DUFF]purzel
( 2.1 hrs on record )
Posted: May 27
A strong story which keeps you uncertain about the situation the main character is in until the end! I highly recommend this game if you want to be on the edge of you seat until its end!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Yorkin
( 2.0 hrs on record )
Posted: May 23
I was in the mood for a quick, single sitting, interactive narrative experience but I couldn't even make it to the end of this short game.

I'll start with what I like about this game. I like the storybook graphic design, music, voice acting and general story delivery.

What I don't like is the story itself or any of the characters. At best, the story is excruciatingly boring. At worst, it's frustrating to witness all the schoolyard drama play out in front of you.

As a big fan of walking simulators or interactive narratives or whatever you choose to call them, I would not recommend this game to anybody.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
AccidentlyOnPurpose
( 14.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 22
7/10 - A Heavy Offering of Nostalgia; Blast from the past!

My girlfriend caught me playing this game; It's the same feeling as being caught masturbating. I was embarrassed and a little defensive. If you really wanted to engage in this activity... it should be done in private!

This game hooked me in and kept me interested mainly due to the fact that I felt as though I was reliving my past. If you are at least 20 then you probably at some point utilized AOL instant messenger. This game takes place entirely within the confines of your computer.

The game spans several years through college; you begin talking to a girl from your past and each year the dynamic of the relationship changes. Things get real pretty fast and the path you choose may differ from time to time. Just when you think you have this one figured out... You may be wrong.

Worth $5 or so; it’s better than I thought it would be, but grab on-sale!

Accidently Reviewed
Was this review helpful or maybe even not helpful? Either way join this group for more. Free Keys and Reviews weekly!
Steam Group: AccidentlyReviewed
Helpful? Yes No Funny
angry quantum physicist
( 0.8 hrs on record )
Posted: May 11
This game is very good! You'd think it'd be a game for children, but the story is very ineresting, The quirkiness of this title makes it fun to play.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
冇鬼用
( 3.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 30
A very, very short game (1 hour max) about a teenager going through the past five days of her life, where you realise that this girl's life gets more and more tragic the more you play the game. Well it feels more like a visual novel. There are different dialogues you can choose, but they seriously don't seem to have any effects on the actual game. The story feels like a mess to me, where there is so much going on that are not related at all to each other and it is hard to connect everything together. Although on the flip side, this may describe the turmultuous life that our protagonist is experiencing right now. I felt like the only part that mattered in the entire game was the final day, closer to the end. Everything else before felt trivial to the story.

Tl:dr. Story gets more ♥♥♥♥ed up the longer you play. Story that just jumps everywhere with no connection. Lovely artwork and music. If you got a few bucks to burn, get it. It's still a good game (or visual novel) and there is proof that the game creators put time and effort into it to make this a quality piece.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
letterboxmusic
( 4.7 hrs on record )
Posted: April 24
Really enjoyed this game and the story.

Played through in one sitting.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Lyonesse
( 4.1 hrs on record )
Posted: April 20
At first, you probably won't like the main character. She's a mess: manipulative, lies a lot, steals, mean to her true friends and gets manipulated by a jerk classmate.

As the story goes by, you'll see some reasons that explains why she's making poor choices. Also, she'll notice her own failures and start to feel regret.

If you were once a teenage and have dealt with some complicated experiences like death, divorce, confused relationships... you'll for sure relate with her story and be touched by it.

Journal is an unique and heartmoving experience. Give it a try!

P.S.: Don't forget to find the secret ending in your second playthrough. You'll love it!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Leedzie
( 3.4 hrs on record )
Posted: April 1
Was this game what I expected it to be? No. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not necessarily.

I can definitely say that the game struck me on an emotional level; it pretty much nailed how much it sucks to be in middle school, having friendships go down in flames, a parent abruptly bringing someone new into the picture, and trying to handle the loss of a loved one. It addresses how we can do stupid things in the heat of the moment and not be able to take it back or undo it, and the way that can leech onto your life going forward even if you try to make amends. It also confronts the conflict of selfishness and feeling that you're expected to perform to a certain standard but not being able (or not wanting) to satisfy it.

Part of me does wish that there were more distinct consequences for each of my actions, but on some level I kind of appreciate that there aren't. One of the themes of this game is that some things just can't be changed no matter how hard you try, and I caught myself experiencing that on a personal level as I attempted a second playthrough but got similar outcomes. I still think unique consequences would've made the game better, but I don't think it's completely pointless for the game to be without it.

Overall, Journal gave me a lot to think about, and even made me cry a few times because it stirred up some incidents from my own past that I too wanted to redo. The controls are a little clunky and it's a bit short, but I'd still give it a go if you're looking for something a little more contemplative. I definitely don't think this game is for everyone, but for those that get invested in a narrative, I think it's worth a play.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Helena
( 4.5 hrs on record )
Posted: March 29
I found the game’s concept interesting. BGM was lovely, but the game itself… It was annoying. I’m not talking about the art style (I actually liked, I found it very different), but both characters and gameplay were quite bad; I couldn’t feel sympathy for any character, and the gameplay is annoying… Having to walk all over the scenario just to trigger scenes, casually leaving the screen when you don’t want to… What a pain.

VA was okay. The animated scenes were also good.

3/10. This game is just really expensive for what is offering. I don’t recommend unless you can get it on a good sale.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
MrDowntempo
( 6.8 hrs on record )
Posted: March 26
This was an interesting game. I'm, personally, quite a fan of narrative focused games, and this fits that bill. It touches on some tough subjects. I really enjoyed how you come to discvoer the personailty of the protagonist through play, and how she might not be the girl you had expected. Still, there is very little gameplay, and the narrative is mostly dumped out through text in speech bubbles. Overall it was a worthwhile experience, although, I did pick it up on sale. I doubt I'd feel the same way if I had paid full price. If you catch this one cheap and can enjoy a heavy story presented in a different, but still straightforward way, then pick this one up!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
L$D
( 0.6 hrs on record )
Posted: March 22
Journal is the most fun single palyer ofline game i reccomend it
Helpful? Yes No Funny
headholo
( 2.6 hrs on record )
Posted: March 21
Perfect for relaxing and doing a little night-time point n clicky
Helpful? Yes No Funny
feuron=
( 1.6 hrs on record )
Posted: March 19
I feel certain aspects of Journal didn't quite "fit", Catherine was a bit obscure...her transformation from "popular girl" status to "caring girl" didn't flow well. Also, messages such as "honesty is the best policy" were not implemented in the greatest way.

With that being said, Journal has a relatable story that includes beautiful artwork and decent voice acting. The plot is a huge mess until the final day, but that sums up the entire theme of the game...life is a mess, filled with mistakes and regrets.

P.S : Journal is a bit overpriced to say the least, make sure to pick it up on sale.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Rendition
( 1.9 hrs on record )
Posted: March 18
Short, simple game with a compelling narrative. Worth it if you get it on sale :)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
OGOriginalGamer
( 2.0 hrs on record )
Posted: March 15
I used my MadCatz Arcade Stick and mashed through the story for the achievements





10/10 would shoryuken again
Helpful? Yes No Funny
eaturbyfill
( 2.2 hrs on record )
Posted: February 27
Journal takes you into the life of a troubled young girl. It kept me on the edge of my seat, yearning to understand the reasons behind her actions. The artwork is perfect for setting the atmosphere of the game, and toes the line between beautiful and brilliantly unsettling. All characters have a lot of depth for such a short narrative.

My only complaint is that the narrative may have been better handled if the illusion of choice had been left out in some places. It leaves the player expecting to have more control than they do.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
SpaceLion
( 2.4 hrs on record )
Posted: February 12
I wish I could do a so-so option, because the thumbs down feels a little harsh in this case, but a full on rec wouldn't sit right with me.

I'm not judging this like how I would an adventure game, first off, because that'd be unfair and also quite silly. I'm judging this purely on what it is: a walk in a person's shoes during a difficult time.

As that, the way the game is done is a great concept. The carnival stories between the chapters were a great idea, and done to good effect. The every day objects "blocking" off places was a very cute idea. The designs, the plot itself, all of it is really interesting, again, as a concept. But in execution it just really didn't hold up for me.

There just.. wasn't really enough to do. Secrets to find, optional and hidden parts of the memories as simple as earnable dialogue, would have boosted the experience considerably.

Another issue is not being able to reason out the truth of anything going on with any of the events until we're told, when the avatar herself does know. Denial doesn't cause a lack of knowledge, so to use what we quite literally don't know anything about in order to Surprise us about specific actions didn't work for me. (it was, however, used to great affect for the last reveal) Maybe if she seemed surprised when it was revealed too, like if the missing journal pages manifested narratively as the avatar in the journal not knowing either until it was repaired, it would have. But I don't know.

It's just.. a very good idea executed too blandly for me to recommend it freely. I don't regret buying the game, and I would probably recommend it to creative friends who'd get something from the concept on it's own, but other than that it's just... okay.

4/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Acinonyx
( 6.0 hrs on record )
Posted: February 10
I've just finished this game. And i have mixed feelings. In this game you are taking role of young girl, who has diary, has problems, etc. First day (the story is divided into 5 days), you can walk around a little bit, talk to 3 people. So far, so good, and i was trying to pay attention to dialogues, names, also choices while talking to those people. Second day, new locations are available, with more people (every day will add new locations and new people). Yeah, you can see the relationship between them, you can interact with them, but nothing really matters. Your "choices" can change only few lines of text, nothing more. And in the end, none of those interactions really matters. It is there just to fill some time, or just to show you that girl has some serious problems. But those problems are actually nothing to worry about, everybody has some problems in his life. What is really important in this game, is actually Day 5, the last "chapter" of this game. Change of atmosphere will tell you that something is not right, your mum will send you to a special place, and you will uncover the truth. The main problem of our protagonist. Well, the ending was really hard and strong, and also started some processes in my head (because as i said, everybody has some problems, and i have some now), but after finishing game, i realize that most of the game was useless, and it should not be there as it gives you nothing. But yeah, without content, it would be more shorter, and also price would be lower, and maybe that's why developers put everything in. I don't know, it is already short enough (and ask 10 euros for that is really ridiculous, real gametime is around 2-3 hours. Yes, i have 6 hours on record, because i actually fell asleep for a moment).

But let's summarize it. Soundtrack is not bad, it is actually good, even as backround music, it helps to create the right atmosphere. The controls, well, you need only 3 keys (space, <- and -> ). Animations, well, there are not any real animations, maybe those "carneval" things (short stories between the days, not really related to protagonist - maybe a little). Hmm, graphics. You can see screenshots from the game, that's all. It is probably hand-drawn, so it does not look bad, but as i said, there are no real animations, so it feels cheap. And for 10 euros, it is really sad. I know, it is an indie game, but still.

There are also some achievements (i've got most of them after first ending, but for 1-2 achievements, you have to play game again. And as there are zero replayability, you can just ignore dialogs), and also trading cards, if anybody interested. But you can't buy that soundtrack. As i am looking at game's price, i don't want to see soundtrack's price (it would be probably 10 euros too).

I don't know, i still don't think it is a good game for 10 euros. Maybe 2-4 euros at max, but no more. So if you want this game, you'd better pick it on sale (-75% or even -87%, then the price is right and that's when i can recommend this game). I still have that bad feeling that developers just wanted to grab money from people, who loves these kind of games, especially with that description about "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.". Well, yes, it is there, they are not lying, but i was expecting something more, that's all. I am not saying that this have to be same for everybody, it is just my feeling about it. I have played much better adventure games, with better stories, gameplay, soundtrack, etc, and for less money. And only good thing about this game is just that ending, which nobody sees coming, because the game keeps it as an secret. It will show it to you only at the end. I don't know, do as you want, it is your money :) I just wanted to warn you, as lot of people (80% of them) are recommending this. Maybe they can see something special about this abstract game, or it just helped them in hard times. Yeah, maybe. But there are many alternatives :) Just saying.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Biha
( 1.3 hrs on record )
Posted: January 31
I was very interested in this game when I read the reviews and heard about story in the game, but as I went on, I realized that the story is something very personal(as if it already happened) and you don't really have choice over what the character do, I think what goes in the journal is the only difference and the game felt like a book, I couldn't finish the game because I lost too much interest in the process.
I really liked the soundtracks, but the game itself wasn't my style.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Faudraline
( 5.0 hrs on record )
Posted: January 23
"Memory is not particularly linear - it is associative, repetitive, subjective and porous." - Dana Spiotta

This whole little game that Richard Perrin was working on for 10 years is actually about memory, and how definitely subjective it is. Any event, any occurrence that we either live ourselves or solely witness, will be retold through a certain perception. There is no such a thing as the truth once an event is recalled from the memory. There is only our own experience, thus, any narrator is eventually an unreliable narrator. Journal is a perfect example of this notion.

The narrative centers a 5 day period in a nameless teenage girl's life when she's been trying to deal with both expected troubles of growing up, establishing a character, making choices, learning hard earned truths and living consequences; and a specific, singular disaster fundamentally too heavy for her young being to deal with. Through detached and off dialogue options, abhorrently selfish exclamations and numbing expressions, we take a walk. Journal is an interesting, yet eventually surreal and nettlesome experience.

The artwork is hand drawn, picking a thin balance between beautiful and creepy, and that many would basically define as being eerie. A melancholy, water color environment combined with slender, faceless characters do create our setting. The whole display screams detachment and an inability of adaptation with the world. A failure to emphasize is written all over the artwork. The music changes as our heroine change places within a side scrolling environment from "feeling blue" to "something's off" any minute. We are given short stories told with shadow plays between chapters to declare some bitter life lessons now and then, and complete a whole playthrough within 2 hours.

I do adore story driven or narrative games mostly. But defining Journal to be either story driven, or narrative would be an understatement and probably even a completely wrong definition. In this collection of personal expressions, the narrative is completely subjective with little to no room for diverse character progression. Contrary to player expectation with the choice options presented in game, our protagonist already displays a precognized set of actions. Her mentality, her actions and reactions are not actually alterable. Any and all events that we encounter within the game, are already lived, thus categorized and concluded within the mind of our heroine. We are solely there to witness her personal recognition of events rather than having a gameplay. She is a bitter, troubled, detached, numb child; stuck in an existential crisis.

Is this a bad thing for us to witness in a game? Quite possibly not. This game was one of the best examples of "unreliable narrator" in any game I've seen before. Yet, it also comes with the direct obstacle of constantly misinforming the player, making him/her walk into dialogues with semi-truths, wrongly presented information and endless defense mechanisms, evading for any kind of truth to be discovered. Being trapped within the narration, you are doomed to make wrong choices inconsequentially. Thus, there is no immersion, no character sympathy or even empathy, no control over any outcome. You are forced to witness endless apathy directed through stereotyped declarations.

The game is most definitely a great art project, and managed to accomplish what it has come to aspire: an ode to memory, perception and illusion of understanding. Yet, I find myself failing to recommend the game in the end. It is not fun to play. It is impossible for one to actually emphasize with the setting. It all is fleeting, surreal and numbing... as it was probably intended to be so. I most certainly appreciate it, yet fail to recognize the beauty of this kind of existentialist numbness as gameplay. There is no hate, no love, no fear, no bravery... "Nothing" wrapped in pretty colors. Pick it on sale if you'd like to take an unusual experience with the grand illusion of choice.

Please also check out Lady Storyteller's Curator page here - follow for regular updates on reviews for other games!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
12 of 14 people (86%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
14.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
7/10 - A Heavy Offering of Nostalgia; Blast from the past!

My girlfriend caught me playing this game; It's the same feeling as being caught masturbating. I was embarrassed and a little defensive. If you really wanted to engage in this activity... it should be done in private!

This game hooked me in and kept me interested mainly due to the fact that I felt as though I was reliving my past. If you are at least 20 then you probably at some point utilized AOL instant messenger. This game takes place entirely within the confines of your computer.

The game spans several years through college; you begin talking to a girl from your past and each year the dynamic of the relationship changes. Things get real pretty fast and the path you choose may differ from time to time. Just when you think you have this one figured out... You may be wrong.

Worth $5 or so; it’s better than I thought it would be, but grab on-sale!

Accidently Reviewed
Was this review helpful or maybe even not helpful? Either way join this group for more. Free Keys and Reviews weekly!
Steam Group: AccidentlyReviewed
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 30
A very, very short game (1 hour max) about a teenager going through the past five days of her life, where you realise that this girl's life gets more and more tragic the more you play the game. Well it feels more like a visual novel. There are different dialogues you can choose, but they seriously don't seem to have any effects on the actual game. The story feels like a mess to me, where there is so much going on that are not related at all to each other and it is hard to connect everything together. Although on the flip side, this may describe the turmultuous life that our protagonist is experiencing right now. I felt like the only part that mattered in the entire game was the final day, closer to the end. Everything else before felt trivial to the story.

Tl:dr. Story gets more ♥♥♥♥ed up the longer you play. Story that just jumps everywhere with no connection. Lovely artwork and music. If you got a few bucks to burn, get it. It's still a good game (or visual novel) and there is proof that the game creators put time and effort into it to make this a quality piece.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
I was in the mood for a quick, single sitting, interactive narrative experience but I couldn't even make it to the end of this short game.

I'll start with what I like about this game. I like the storybook graphic design, music, voice acting and general story delivery.

What I don't like is the story itself or any of the characters. At best, the story is excruciatingly boring. At worst, it's frustrating to witness all the schoolyard drama play out in front of you.

As a big fan of walking simulators or interactive narratives or whatever you choose to call them, I would not recommend this game to anybody.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 11
This game is very good! You'd think it'd be a game for children, but the story is very ineresting, The quirkiness of this title makes it fun to play.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 90 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 29
I found the game’s concept interesting. BGM was lovely, but the game itself… It was annoying. I’m not talking about the art style (I actually liked, I found it very different), but both characters and gameplay were quite bad; I couldn’t feel sympathy for any character, and the gameplay is annoying… Having to walk all over the scenario just to trigger scenes, casually leaving the screen when you don’t want to… What a pain.

VA was okay. The animated scenes were also good.

3/10. This game is just really expensive for what is offering. I don’t recommend unless you can get it on a good sale.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: April 20
At first, you probably won't like the main character. She's a mess: manipulative, lies a lot, steals, mean to her true friends and gets manipulated by a jerk classmate.

As the story goes by, you'll see some reasons that explains why she's making poor choices. Also, she'll notice her own failures and start to feel regret.

If you were once a teenage and have dealt with some complicated experiences like death, divorce, confused relationships... you'll for sure relate with her story and be touched by it.

Journal is an unique and heartmoving experience. Give it a try!

P.S.: Don't forget to find the secret ending in your second playthrough. You'll love it!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 19
I feel certain aspects of Journal didn't quite "fit", Catherine was a bit obscure...her transformation from "popular girl" status to "caring girl" didn't flow well. Also, messages such as "honesty is the best policy" were not implemented in the greatest way.

With that being said, Journal has a relatable story that includes beautiful artwork and decent voice acting. The plot is a huge mess until the final day, but that sums up the entire theme of the game...life is a mess, filled with mistakes and regrets.

P.S : Journal is a bit overpriced to say the least, make sure to pick it up on sale.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 1
Was this game what I expected it to be? No. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not necessarily.

I can definitely say that the game struck me on an emotional level; it pretty much nailed how much it sucks to be in middle school, having friendships go down in flames, a parent abruptly bringing someone new into the picture, and trying to handle the loss of a loved one. It addresses how we can do stupid things in the heat of the moment and not be able to take it back or undo it, and the way that can leech onto your life going forward even if you try to make amends. It also confronts the conflict of selfishness and feeling that you're expected to perform to a certain standard but not being able (or not wanting) to satisfy it.

Part of me does wish that there were more distinct consequences for each of my actions, but on some level I kind of appreciate that there aren't. One of the themes of this game is that some things just can't be changed no matter how hard you try, and I caught myself experiencing that on a personal level as I attempted a second playthrough but got similar outcomes. I still think unique consequences would've made the game better, but I don't think it's completely pointless for the game to be without it.

Overall, Journal gave me a lot to think about, and even made me cry a few times because it stirred up some incidents from my own past that I too wanted to redo. The controls are a little clunky and it's a bit short, but I'd still give it a go if you're looking for something a little more contemplative. I definitely don't think this game is for everyone, but for those that get invested in a narrative, I think it's worth a play.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 21
Perfect for relaxing and doing a little night-time point n clicky
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 22
Journal is the most fun single palyer ofline game i reccomend it
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: April 24
Really enjoyed this game and the story.

Played through in one sitting.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 180 days
63 of 73 people (86%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
5.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 23
"Memory is not particularly linear - it is associative, repetitive, subjective and porous." - Dana Spiotta

This whole little game that Richard Perrin was working on for 10 years is actually about memory, and how definitely subjective it is. Any event, any occurrence that we either live ourselves or solely witness, will be retold through a certain perception. There is no such a thing as the truth once an event is recalled from the memory. There is only our own experience, thus, any narrator is eventually an unreliable narrator. Journal is a perfect example of this notion.

The narrative centers a 5 day period in a nameless teenage girl's life when she's been trying to deal with both expected troubles of growing up, establishing a character, making choices, learning hard earned truths and living consequences; and a specific, singular disaster fundamentally too heavy for her young being to deal with. Through detached and off dialogue options, abhorrently selfish exclamations and numbing expressions, we take a walk. Journal is an interesting, yet eventually surreal and nettlesome experience.

The artwork is hand drawn, picking a thin balance between beautiful and creepy, and that many would basically define as being eerie. A melancholy, water color environment combined with slender, faceless characters do create our setting. The whole display screams detachment and an inability of adaptation with the world. A failure to emphasize is written all over the artwork. The music changes as our heroine change places within a side scrolling environment from "feeling blue" to "something's off" any minute. We are given short stories told with shadow plays between chapters to declare some bitter life lessons now and then, and complete a whole playthrough within 2 hours.

I do adore story driven or narrative games mostly. But defining Journal to be either story driven, or narrative would be an understatement and probably even a completely wrong definition. In this collection of personal expressions, the narrative is completely subjective with little to no room for diverse character progression. Contrary to player expectation with the choice options presented in game, our protagonist already displays a precognized set of actions. Her mentality, her actions and reactions are not actually alterable. Any and all events that we encounter within the game, are already lived, thus categorized and concluded within the mind of our heroine. We are solely there to witness her personal recognition of events rather than having a gameplay. She is a bitter, troubled, detached, numb child; stuck in an existential crisis.

Is this a bad thing for us to witness in a game? Quite possibly not. This game was one of the best examples of "unreliable narrator" in any game I've seen before. Yet, it also comes with the direct obstacle of constantly misinforming the player, making him/her walk into dialogues with semi-truths, wrongly presented information and endless defense mechanisms, evading for any kind of truth to be discovered. Being trapped within the narration, you are doomed to make wrong choices inconsequentially. Thus, there is no immersion, no character sympathy or even empathy, no control over any outcome. You are forced to witness endless apathy directed through stereotyped declarations.

The game is most definitely a great art project, and managed to accomplish what it has come to aspire: an ode to memory, perception and illusion of understanding. Yet, I find myself failing to recommend the game in the end. It is not fun to play. It is impossible for one to actually emphasize with the setting. It all is fleeting, surreal and numbing... as it was probably intended to be so. I most certainly appreciate it, yet fail to recognize the beauty of this kind of existentialist numbness as gameplay. There is no hate, no love, no fear, no bravery... "Nothing" wrapped in pretty colors. Pick it on sale if you'd like to take an unusual experience with the grand illusion of choice.

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8 of 11 people (73%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 14
Summary
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.

Tags: Indie, Adventure, Female Protagonist, Walking Simulator, Interactive Fiction, Hand-drawn, Casual, Visual Novel, Singleplayer
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=600360443
Review
As the summary says, in this game you play as a troubled young girl, facing her responsibilities and the consequences of her choices.

The game plays relatively well, aside from the controls. It feels like they made this game, intending it to be a point & click, but instead decided to use keyboard controls half way through development. I really think the game would be better if, instead of keyboard controls, they used point & click mechanics. It would even go really well with the game; in its current state, you have to navigate with the arrow keys (which are a little too responsive) and space to talk to people or interact with the environment. So, naturally, point & click controls would help with the over sensitive arrow keys and also allow you to simply click on a person to walk over to them and talk to them.

The story is a really well made one, despite it being only around 2 hours long. The premise is that suddenly, the pages of your diary are blank and you need to find out what happened to them. By playing through each of the 5 days, you collect the information that has disappeared. If you like games where the character has a mild case of amnesia, or is needs to find pieces of his/her memories as they progress, you will enjoy this game. The secret ending that you can get after you play through the game once is worth your time to find ;)

Has beautiful hand-drawn visuals and a soothing soundtrack. The perspective of this game is strange: you (as the girl?) are sitting at what seems to be a desk in your bedroom, looking into your journal, playing the game, looking for the missing words of your journal (journal-ception?!). When you complete each day, the perspective changes, and you are greeted by a shadow puppet show that tells a unique story. The main part of the game consists of wandering through your British town, talking to people, completing tasks, resolving troubles, and taking part in school life.
Some actions are influenced by your decisions, but I think you get the same ending no matter what choices you make during your first playthrough.

There are 10, easily unlockable achievements that took my 2.3 hours to unlock (one is sitting at the menu screen for 10 minutes xD). The price is high for only 2 hours of content, so I recommend you buying this game on sale for under $5, unless you really want to play it. Overall a really enjoyable game that plays sort of like a visual novel. I got it for $1.39, and I couldn’t be happier.

My implemented rating system:
Run away! 1-2/10
Handle with caution… 3-4/10
Buy on sale: 5-6/10
Every day purchase: 7-8/10
Must buy: 9-10/10


This game's rating: 6.5/10. A little expensive, but well worth the cost on sale.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 5
life is a roller coaster. but for a teenager from a broken family , the ride will go with max speed.


this visual novel (or point and click? or interactive fiction? meh nevermind.) tell a story about a teenage anxiety with a really good narrative and also good voice act too. and i love the cute journal-ish environment.


but the most outstanding aspect in this game is:
the indiepop song about the game itself in the secret ending! if you like tunes from sarah records, or maybe band like teenage fanclub / speedmarket avenue / ozma / weezer, you'll like this. its hillarious :D
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
6.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 10
I've just finished this game. And i have mixed feelings. In this game you are taking role of young girl, who has diary, has problems, etc. First day (the story is divided into 5 days), you can walk around a little bit, talk to 3 people. So far, so good, and i was trying to pay attention to dialogues, names, also choices while talking to those people. Second day, new locations are available, with more people (every day will add new locations and new people). Yeah, you can see the relationship between them, you can interact with them, but nothing really matters. Your "choices" can change only few lines of text, nothing more. And in the end, none of those interactions really matters. It is there just to fill some time, or just to show you that girl has some serious problems. But those problems are actually nothing to worry about, everybody has some problems in his life. What is really important in this game, is actually Day 5, the last "chapter" of this game. Change of atmosphere will tell you that something is not right, your mum will send you to a special place, and you will uncover the truth. The main problem of our protagonist. Well, the ending was really hard and strong, and also started some processes in my head (because as i said, everybody has some problems, and i have some now), but after finishing game, i realize that most of the game was useless, and it should not be there as it gives you nothing. But yeah, without content, it would be more shorter, and also price would be lower, and maybe that's why developers put everything in. I don't know, it is already short enough (and ask 10 euros for that is really ridiculous, real gametime is around 2-3 hours. Yes, i have 6 hours on record, because i actually fell asleep for a moment).

But let's summarize it. Soundtrack is not bad, it is actually good, even as backround music, it helps to create the right atmosphere. The controls, well, you need only 3 keys (space, <- and -> ). Animations, well, there are not any real animations, maybe those "carneval" things (short stories between the days, not really related to protagonist - maybe a little). Hmm, graphics. You can see screenshots from the game, that's all. It is probably hand-drawn, so it does not look bad, but as i said, there are no real animations, so it feels cheap. And for 10 euros, it is really sad. I know, it is an indie game, but still.

There are also some achievements (i've got most of them after first ending, but for 1-2 achievements, you have to play game again. And as there are zero replayability, you can just ignore dialogs), and also trading cards, if anybody interested. But you can't buy that soundtrack. As i am looking at game's price, i don't want to see soundtrack's price (it would be probably 10 euros too).

I don't know, i still don't think it is a good game for 10 euros. Maybe 2-4 euros at max, but no more. So if you want this game, you'd better pick it on sale (-75% or even -87%, then the price is right and that's when i can recommend this game). I still have that bad feeling that developers just wanted to grab money from people, who loves these kind of games, especially with that description about "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.". Well, yes, it is there, they are not lying, but i was expecting something more, that's all. I am not saying that this have to be same for everybody, it is just my feeling about it. I have played much better adventure games, with better stories, gameplay, soundtrack, etc, and for less money. And only good thing about this game is just that ending, which nobody sees coming, because the game keeps it as an secret. It will show it to you only at the end. I don't know, do as you want, it is your money :) I just wanted to warn you, as lot of people (80% of them) are recommending this. Maybe they can see something special about this abstract game, or it just helped them in hard times. Yeah, maybe. But there are many alternatives :) Just saying.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 13
A short and sweet story with an intriguing art style. Very much an Angsty Teenage Girl Simulator, but in a good way.

P.S. if you decide to play this, I STRONGLY suggest starting a second playthrough after finishing your first one and unlock the secret ending. Worth it.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
373 of 452 people (83%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 17, 2014
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.
You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal.
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103 of 129 people (80%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 11, 2014
I can appreciate games with more focus on storytelling rather than gameplay, but I did not like this game. It's not a bad game, the voice acting is good and sketchy artstyle is really appealing but I could not sympathize with the unnamed protagonist nor did I have any interest in her. She's a troublemaker who lies, cheats and steals... and breaks windows. Even if you pick the positive moral choices, it doesn't affect the outcome of the story and as a result, she is still a ♥♥♥♥♥.

Throughout the whole game, you're left wondering what it is that she's going through that has caused her to behave this way. I felt like the story was a bit of a muddle and that it wasn't really going anywhere as they leave out details for pretty much everything such as her parent's divorce, her grandmother's sudden change of behaviour and the package you have to pick up from the post office. They don't really contribute to her bad behaviour as the ending explains why she has been acting out.

The ending (which I won't spoil) was very cheesy and it was clearly meant to be sentimental but it just happens so abruptly. Nothing in this game has lead to the events of the ending. That's been told through the carnival interludes (that serves as a backstory), in which you end your day by going back to your journal. I feel like I would've sympathize with the character more if they told us this in the first place rather than trying to make it some sort of a huge twist.

Is this game trying to tell us a story about the life of a teenage girl or was it meant to be deeper? Either way, the disjointed narrative structure of the game just shoehorns more mysteries that feels pointless. I bought this game with my disposable income of £1.74 as the game was 75% off. You can complete this game within an hour and a half and the achievements, as well as the game of course, is very easy. They try to tell so much story within that game length. Unless the game is at that price, I would avoid. It's a love it or hate it game but one with no incentives to play it through the second time.

5/10 - AVERAGE!
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78 of 93 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: July 13, 2014
Faulty's scorecard :-

1) Essential purchase
2) Recommended purchase
3) Recommended purchase during a sale
4) Not recommended unless heavily discounted
5) Not even recommended for Steam game collectors

A penny for your thoughts

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.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=343391623
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 moment (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.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=343391309
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.

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46 of 50 people (92%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
Recommended
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 12, 2015
A poignant reminder of how subjectively we experience events in our lives. Highly recommended to any adventure/story fans that don't mind empathizing with a teen protagonist with her own individual issues and problems.
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