Game: Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home
Genre: Platformer, Adventure, Music, Indie, Puzzle.
System: Nintendo Switch, ( also available on Steam, Windows, Linux, PS4 & 5, Xbox One, Series X & S)
Developer | Publisher: Longterm Games S.A, Enjoy Studio S.A. | RedDeer Games
Age Rating: US E | EU 7+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £17.99 | EU €19.99
Release Date: November 3rd, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Red Deer Games.
Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home is a platformer-adventure game with arcade-logic puzzles, inspired by historical events that were only possible thanks to our sometimes forgotten heroes: dogs. In this game, our canine heroine, Bea, a simple dog, survives her trip to space. There she begins an adventure of self-exploration on unknown planets and space stations. She needs to use her senses to find her way back to her companions and eventually “home.”
A Sad Truth – A Story Rewritten
When people hear the phrase “Based on real events,” it seems easier to empathize with a story. In this case, with Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home, Bea represents not one but many stories of numerous animals who involuntarily gave their lives for our technological advancements. Laika was the first dog in space, allowing us to understand more about space at a high cost. These events happened during the space race in the Cold War, and since then, luckily, circumstances have changed in how we explore beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
In Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home, we follow the story of Bea, a dog that received her owner’s love and warmth but eventually had to train her senses to leave on her special mission. Taking a turn from the actual events, Bea becomes a survivor of the trip and lands on an unknown planet. Throughout her journey, she depends on her senses to sniff familiar scents, hear threats from afar, or use her canine eyesight to solve obstructing puzzles.
A Person’s Best Friend and Her Companions
Even though Bea is separated from her dear owner, she is not alone on this voyage. Along her adventure, she makes new friends by communicating with dog-behaviour actions, like giving her paw, howling, rolling, and many others. These beings that Bea meets on her journey are usually sad, angry, or bored. Still, it is nothing that a charismatic dog like Bea cannot handle. When befriending them, they also assist Bea most of the time to help her advance.
The main companions that aid Bea in her exploration become more attached to her and give her more skills needed to survive and continue forward. Rose, a comet with the ability to hit enemies or objects, and 8088Y, a robot that can open and hack different mechanisms, are Bea’s loyal and trusted companions, and they do their best to protect and guide her.
Creative Atmospheres – Great Visuals
Even though Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home focuses a lot on its narrative and mechanics, making it all contribute to the central concept, this doesn’t mean the rest of the elements were left aside unpolished. Each environment has its vibe and originality, having puzzles that match its surroundings. There was some minimal incongruence in certain places, but nothing too noticeable, mainly because it is a fantasy with its sense in its world.
Characters like the “winged piglet” and the “tinkerer” were amazingly made. Although Bea needed to move around them to do specific actions to advance, it is almost unavoidable to stay still and admire the work put into these personalities.
Matching and Mesmerizing Sound / Amazing Narration
Thanks to the composers Jan Sanejko and Bartosz Chajdecki, the space-like orchestral music Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home offers is like no other. The music in the background is great, and the soundtrack behind every action fits accordingly. Yet the tunes are not so memorable that they would stay in the head like other catchy songs from other games.
Its narrative is spot on. It felt genuine and well narrated, together with an exceptionally written script; the voice narration of Bea’s journey is uniquely remarkable. It felt suitable and understandable, even with the sometimes poetic and more profound lines. In all its aspects, the narrative compels the player to empathize with the story and with Bea.
Concept and Mechanics
Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home stands separate from similar titles because of its narrative and dog-like mechanics. The senses’ mechanics are fun and intuitive to use. Bea’s sight that can see over certain areas is beneficial, particularly when you need to be careful not to enter enemies’ vision. Bea’s sense of smell can also be quite useful, showing her in which direction she has to go and sometimes even where to find other practical things. Sometimes though, Bea’s sniffing could direct you to numerous places, making it a little confusing.
The only sense that felt a little less necessary during the whole game was the hearing. Even though Bea does need to use it sometimes, it is very little and is not as needed as the other senses. Because of the amount of content this game already has, it is not such a big deal, yet it is an aspect that could have been exploited much more.
Transitioning and Little Details
Only a few details felt unpolished or needed improvement, but the overall experience was gratifying. However, the speed at which the game screen switches from one screen to another felt too fast, making the transition between cut scenes and levels too abrupt. By the moment the last word finished sounding in a narrative piece, the screen rapidly changed to the next part, sometimes leaving no pause to digest what was happening.
Other than that, there were a few animations that could improve and make its UI a little clearer and easier to navigate. Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home clearly shows influence from other similar games, and with different ways to pass a level or sometimes backtrack to previously visited areas, a comfortable UI is satisfying to have.
Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home is distinctive in quite some ways. The way this game reflects such an inspiring concept that gives homage to such deserving animals is excellent and worthy of applause. It comes from a sad reality that most animals did not make it back when sent to these missions. Yet, Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home paints a fantasy of bravery, courage, and a deeper understanding of self-exploration, be that in outer space or within yourself.
Other than that, for platformer enthusiasts, this game will not fail you, as it is pretty challenging with its puzzles and exploration features. For players that enjoyed the series of Ori, games like Limbo or similar titles, this might be for you as well.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.