It’s not the destination, it’s the journey: Old Man’s Journey

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

When it comes to mobile gaming, immersion isn’t usually high on the list of priorities—it’s pretty hard to lose yourself in a 4.7-inch screen, no matter how engaging the story is. And that’s why games that are able to transport you to another world—or rather, multiple other worlds—are so impressive. Old Man’s Journey is an incredibly atmospheric, narrative-driven adventure game that will take you through quaint French villages, past pastoral countryside, and across the sea on a surprisingly relatable journey.

journey letter Broken Rules

This letter (which you never get to actually read) is what launches your adventure.

The game begins at the Old Man’s residence—a lonely cliff-side retreat overlooking a gray, rocky shore. Your character, the titular Old Man, stands at the top of a rickety wooden staircase, staring off into the clouds. A bicycle messenger cycles up the hill, stops near the outhouse, and hands the Old Man a plain brown envelope. After he reads the contents, the Old Man disappears into his house and then pops out the other side, armed with a camping pack and a walking stick—and it’s time for the journey to begin.

Old Man’s Journey is a point-and-click adventure game and an environmental puzzler, but it’s not difficult—the point of the game is to explore and immerse yourself in the colorful, hand-drawn world and thoughtful narrative, not get stuck trying to advance. It’s short, sweet, and the ending is probably easy to predict…but the experience is definitely worth the $5 premium price tag. Here’s why:

The gameplay is unique: It might be a bit of a stretch to call Old Man’s Journey a game—the adventure feels more like an elaborate interactive storybook than an actual game—but it does feature puzzles and an interesting environment-manipulating game mechanic.

Moving the Old Man around is pretty simple (at first): Tap an area on the screen to mark his destination with an animated walking stick, and the Old Man will start making his way over. If you tap an area that’s not accessible, such as a hill that doesn’t connect to the plane the Old Man is currently on, he’ll scratch his head and throw up a question mark—that’s your cue to figure out how to make that area accessible to him. You can do this by manipulating the environment.

journey environment Broken Rules

Think those cliffs and hills are static? Think again.

The Old Man’s Journey game world is made up of layers and layers of rolling hills, countryside cliffs, and moveable mountains—all you have to do is drag these layers up and down until they connect to each other and create a pathway the Old Man can manage. There are a couple of rules you’ll have to follow while you’re re-creating the environment. First, not all elements have the same amount of flexibility—some, like waterfalls and man-made structures, aren’t movable at all, while others, like gradually-sloping hills, can be almost completely flattened or peaked, depending on what you need. Second, you can’t move the plane that the Old Man is standing on. In later scenes this rule will become more important, and you’ll need to figure out where you can put the Old Man while you push his environment around to suit your needs.

journey environment 2 Broken Rules

Tap the screen, and pale yellow lines will appear on the parts of the environment that can be pushed around.

To move the environment, all you have to do is tap and hold the screen until lines appear on the movable planes. You’ll then be able to tap and drag those planes up and down until they meet each other, and the Old Man can hop from one plane to another.