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:
Mostly Positive (299 reviews) - 79% of the 299 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

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
    • OS: OSX 10.6
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
    • OS: Ubuntu 10.10
    • Processor: 2GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Shader Model 3.0
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
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Mostly Positive (299 reviews)
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
377 of 457 people (82%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
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 132 people (78%) 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 (I even like Gone Home which a lot of people hate), 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's 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 the story 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 happened so abruptly. Nothing in this game has lead to the events of the ending, except for the carnival interludes maybe. 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 into 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 and it was all pointless. They try to tell so much story within the short legth of the game. 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. 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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66 of 77 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.

Please also check out Lady Storyteller's Curator page here - follow for regular updates on reviews for other games!
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47 of 51 people (92%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
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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51 of 63 people (81%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 17, 2014
To debate whether this game has artistic merit or if it is worth buying seems almost pointless. The game is currently 80 minutes, and even then it is where the game has you make all the choices you can achieve before proceeding. It is not a game like Gone Home, where the details to every little thing are incredible. The game has rough edges where the main character would often clip at edges or I would go through a door twice due to tapping it once and going to the left slightly. But...I feel like it is a game that needs to happen for the continuation of the medium of games.

The character goes by unamed, and the first few minutes are rather naively optimistic. You are exploring why the pages of your journal are missing! It will be a intriquing journey of mystery and investigation. But the game hides what your character did and did not do, thus leading to misenterpretations where you make a choice that you regret instantly.
But, the game benefits from these choices. It is a very truthful game where the main character is not a vessel or a blank slate for the player, but is truly a confused young girl who is unsure of what is the right or wrong thing to say or do. Gone Home is where you view the experiences of a confused girl, while Journal is more about BEING a confused girl. I am really glad that my character doesn't agree with my own stance on the matter, even when she makes a choice I would have made because I am a seperate person from what her life is.

The art, while getting a lot of praise from people, to me is very simplistic and helps achieve a children's story feel that betrays the true meaning of the game. You do not help people in this game, nor do you make lifes better. It is what a child would feel when going through such a painful moment in their life, and I really do respect and admire a game that can achieve such clarity on the subject of childhood innocence and even if it is possible.
I say that it is a important step in video games is because this is a really personal story for the writer and artist. It is not a game where there is any power trip nor any sense of accomplishment, and is really not about finding the truth or letting go of things. It's about a normal person dealing with things that can never be undone or fixed. To spoil the ending or even the moments within it would ruin the experience of actually going through it.

Would I recommend this: YES
It is a very close and personal game, where the length or technical lack of polish does not ruin or even bring down the honesty and bluntness Journal has brought. I wish I could say specifics, but to do that would ruin your own experience with it.

Suggestion for developer: I believe more polish to the game would be benefical, and more stories from the writer and artist would be greatly appreciated.
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41 of 47 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 30, 2014
This is a quiet, lovely story about grief, remembrance, loss, and adolescence. I'm sure a lot of people in the "this is not a game" camp would be quick to dismiss it, but I know I rather like games that have a great narritive and are more of an interactive story. I'd most compare this to a visual novel...there's no puzzles to solve but rather just choices in responses to questions. The visual style is really interesting...the entire game takes place on pieces of paper, which flip as you change scenes and everything looks like a drawing.
The game is rather brief though...it took me about 2 hours. It can probably be done in far less if you don't take the time to talk to everyone. I'd say to definitely wait until it's on sale, the full price isn't worth it, but it IS worth getting.
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28 of 28 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: June 21, 2015
I will admit it: at first, I didn't like Journal. The main character comes across as an unlikable narrator. As other negative reviews have mentioned, she steals, lies, and hurts her friends. It's hard to find anything to like about her as you begin her story.

But then the experience broadens, and you begin to see some of the reasons why she is making poor choices. One of the girl's regrettable experiences hit home so much that I was emotionally jarred. Perhaps because I was also once a teenage girl, I found myself relating heavily to her story. You watch as she struggles through the realities of divorce, relationships, death, and the daily nonsense of life. It is an extremely personal tale, and I was floored by what the game achieved. I could have easily been that girl, through some of the ways she related to others and the choices she made. I didn't like myself then, and the girl in the game doesn't like herself now. Journal is in some ways a tragic work. How much you like the game will possibly depend on how much you relate to her and her journey.

There are some minor flaws in the experience. It can be difficult at times to determine where the next conversation trigger is, so that you may talk to some individuals multiple times fruitlessly, trying to figure out what you're supposed to do. You will wander over the same settings again and again, although this is accomplished at a pretty brisk pace that never feels too cumbersome. Some of the dialoge choices could be clearer; at times, I was unsure what my character was getting ready to communicate by the options.

Still, for the flaws, I absolutely recommend Journal. It blends painful realism with touches of imagination that create a story that can stun you in the accomplishment of its narrative arc. I applaud Locked Door Puzzle for what they've made: Journal is a piece of art.
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31 of 39 people (79%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 3, 2014
As much as I really wanted this game, and even wanted to give it a good review I just can't. I am sitting here fresh after playing it, feeling terrible after the game. Most of the time I can review games with a better manner of my feelings. This game however even though it made me feel terrible, it was for all the wrong reasons.

You have absolutely no influence in this game what-so-ever. When I found out this girl was a bit of a trouble maker I thought I could just make the right choices and avoid it. To no avail though. And decisions were able to be made before you even knew what was going on. Like the broken window, your friend is upset because everyone thinks she did it, you tell her you know you didn't do it just to hear from someone else you were the one saying she did it.

You also steal from charity, but not by choice, and you're not even aware of it until your stopped by a police officer and your character admits she stole. Then you can't even take it back by first choice, you have to admit it to your mother. The character is very very selfish and by the end of it I just hated her, and this game. The circus "cut scenes" were completely comfusing and I feel so terrible because I wasted money on this. It had been in development for a long time, one would expect better gameplay from it.

I just cannot reccomend this game, because as much as I love games with stories, this just isn't a good one.
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24 of 27 people (89%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 11, 2014
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.

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29 of 36 people (81%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 11, 2014
I honestly don't know how I feel about this game!
It's kinda hard to explain.
It's not what I expected.
This is not a game but a very short story being told.
Your choices make no difference whatsoever to the outcome.
Still I liked the end, didn't see it coming.
Loved the artstyle and the shadow theater between chapters.
I only recommend it for 75% off. Not worth the full price.
Also recommend you watch videos before purchasing it. This is a love it or hate it game. (or maybe you will be confused like me!)
Didn't hate the game so that it would make me give thumbs down. But didn't love it either.

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Recently Posted
2.2 hrs
Posted: September 10
meh... it's not bad, in fact it's quite good, nice story. it's not a long game, it wouldn't have been at all hard to have it fully voice-acted, all in all it lacks polish and production value, but i gather it's from a rather indie team so i guess it can be understood. if you like narrative non-games this one is an adequate offering.
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1.9 hrs
Posted: September 3
Short, choose-your-own-adventure-ish type game. As with many indie games, this one has a heavy ending that slaps you in the face with drama. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Here, it works.

I say "choose your own adventure" but that's not quite right. You don't really influence the story outcome that I can tell, at least in any significant way. I'd have to do a second playthrough to know for sure, so take that for what it is.

The game and artwork are as presented in the screenshots - you play the role of a girl with missing journal pages, and the story itself fills out over time as you learn more about what is going on.

Gameplay-wise, I only ran into one bug: when streaming, the gamepad would not work on my Steam Link unless I unplugged the gamepad from my streaming machine. Once done, it was fully playable with the gamepad.

The story is more interesting than it first lets on. I did have an urge to stop early on because it seemed a bit dull, but I'm glad I stuck it out. As time went on, I thought "hey, I'm playing a truly bad girl who doesn't realize she's bad". I would frequently be given choices that were, in a manner of speaking, all bad choices. That would have been a unique twist, but it wasn't the full story. In the end, it all made sense and I'm glad I stuck to it. My only complaint, I suppose, is that the game did feel a bit repetitive and long for what little gameplay and story there is.

This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it was a nice change of pace for me. Recommended 3 out of 5.
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2.4 hrs
Posted: August 16
Interesting game. Unique however the choices typically don't matter as the results were the same. Sad and touching story.
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2.4 hrs
Posted: August 8
A very short, artsy and interesting game. A surprisingly sad ending to the story but I like the eccentric artistry work. Fast paced, only takes about 2-3 hours to beat the game.
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3.3 hrs
Posted: August 3
Wow, what a game. I should rather say "experience" as it passes on to you something more than amusement. It's not just a set of maps, chapters, hand drawn graphics, unique art style, voice acting and branching dialouges. All of this combined together exposes you to daily problems, emotions, relationships and feelings; especially the feeling of loss. In the end it is a sad game, but without it our lives would be untrue and incomplete. Without sadness we could not enjoy happiness. Try this game, and please, don't rush through dialogues, they are important part of this unique experience. I like how all the characters have "empty" faces, this is a nice symbol that it complications affect all of us - we can all end up in similar situations.

(this review isn't final. It's a bit chaotic, but I needed to write something right after finishing the game).
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2.7 hrs
Posted: July 16
I started this game with light mind.
Liked the graphic and realistic interactions with people.
And about time i was feeling it was getting boring, my reaction about ppl made it drastic.
I thought i made, not best, but honest choice of answer i could do.
But Things, it didn't go like what i expect.
And maybe i think thats what it means to be living as a human.
Never expected so much in this game, this game so well delivers the message they want to tell.
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1.8 hrs
Posted: July 1
A nice short story telling of some trouble times of a young child. There is dialog choices but it's all linear.
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4.0 hrs
Posted: June 29
Journal is a piece of interactive ficiton about a young girl going through a troubled time. The game is divided into short chapters which focus on an event in her life. Within each chapter the girl deals with her confused feelings regarding that chapter's event and your input comes in the form of deciding between two choices that come up during dialogue: you can either respond positively or negatively. The choice doesn't seem to affect the overall outcome, but it affects how the character comes out. There is no puzzle-solving, you move from character to character, exhausting dialogue choices till the plot moves you forward.

I am a bit torn on what I feel about the game. I picked all positive choices during my playthrough, and oddly enough, it felt jarring. The character is meant to be portrayed as a troubled girl, and me making her respond positively to everything felt at odds with the writer's intention and the character he is trying to portray. I didn't like the girl very much either throughout the game, whether she responded positively or negatively. The message is that she is young and troubled by events in her life, but what I percieved is the cruelty and selfishness you see in many insensitive children. Frequently through the story, we glimpse from her inner monologues that she doesn't really have any remorse for some of the things she does. Maybe it makes her more human, but it makes her less likable.

Despite that, the game's psychedlic finale has been slighlty redemptive to me. The girl becomes more of a sympathetic character and the game's allegory is demystified. The music in this game (and the finale, in particular), is truly great at setting the tone.

This game is so frequently on sale that it is hard not to give it a recommendation despite my mixed feelings. Playthrough is about 2 hours.
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2.9 hrs
Posted: June 26
As I started to play Journal, I thought it would be just a quick VN about a typical angsty teenage girl "growing up". Instead I found a story of a girl experiencing multi-faceted emotional distress who, instead of directing her anger inward to be a more sympathetic character, raged against the world and acted out. By the end of her story though, I was in tears. Admittedly, I am kind of a sentimental slob anyway, but her situation hit home to me, I think because of the strength of the writing, dialogue choices, and art that were all beautifully done. The music also enhanced my journey through the game. A journey I'm glad I took.
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Double Uppercut
2.0 hrs
Posted: June 13
I don't know. I really don't know.

It's hard to say whether I enjoyed Journal or not. Like Omikron: The Nomad Soul, there were certainly a lot of things I did like, but just as many things that I just didn't enjoy.

"Journal" is a game that follows a young girl suffering problems after an emotionally traumatic and pivotal moment in her life, and you proceed to play as her for the five days that follow.

For starters, I really enjoyed the visual aesthetic... to a certain degree. I love the hand-drawn look (reminds me of "Close Your Eyes", which I played and beat very recently). I like how you actually play in a 3D journal, and as you unlock areas, the items that cover their entrances are removed and set beside the journal. I like the little shadow shows that describe the different carnival members between the days. It feels like I'm going through someone's actual journal and looking at their personal thoughts.

It seemed strange that the world looked all cracked and broke when I was played, but after being revealed the big spoiler and seeing the ending, it actually made a lot more sense that in the girl's imagination, the world would look that way. So good on the designers for making that.

However, I'm not a fan of the characters' art. They all lack faces and proper voices to make them feel real. They just look like puppets. Perhaps another layer to the way the girl perceives the world, but it was one I didn't enjoy. I felt like I could have been immersed more if all the characters had voices.

I also found the portion where you control the girl walking off the pages and across her room a little goofy. It's just weird to see this tiny hand-drawn girl walking across a 3D rendered world. I found something funny in it. And I didn't enjoy how preachy the game got about it's point. I like the little subtleties that support the underlying point, but I also believe that underlying point should be something subtle. Something that you let the player discover for themselves.

Along with that, the music was just... okay. It wasn't memorable. It felt like a person hitting different keys within the five-finger space he had for each location. Even the big, momentous, reveal feels mundane and ordinary because of the music. Along with that, the sound on the girl's voice is terrible. It sounds like she's in a recording room with a mic in front of her. The guy who talked during the carnival shadow shows sounded great, so it seemed odd that her audio quality was so low.

While the world and the character designs did follows the mentality of the girl after this big moment in her life... it doesn't feel like the story relates to it in anyway. It just seems like you walk around and talk to people with little consequence, because the game ends with a text crawl and a montage of a family that had no signigicant important to the writers, it seemed (as their last names are different. But who knows? Maybe Melissa Royall's last name is marital.)

Along with that, the controls just suck. You slide too much to the point that you might leave one area and slide into another one right after without intending to. And there were a host of glitches in the game, from conversations cutting off randomly, to the interact button appearing over things I couldn't interact with, to certain text just being a ton of random letters (Although, I think that was intentional, but I don't know. It was never explained in the story).

I can't say I hate Journal. I just feel apathetic for it, but within my apathy lies just a little bit of sympathy. And maybe you can find some empathy within me for that. I just hope there is no antipathy between me and you, dear reader.

What I mean by that, is that this game has some good stuff that outweighs its flaws, but it just didn't do much for me. However, I know it could be effective for anyone who's gone through a traumatic event in their life and can relate more. I never went through anything similar to the girl, so that might be why my heart doesn't go out ot Journal that well. I can see people loving this game, but for my money I just didn't. I'm giving Journal a 6/10
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