Journal is an adventure game that follows the life of a young girl over several days. You have a slight influence over the story and what she does, though in the end what happens is out of your control.
While it’s never explicitly stated within the game, you can assume the young girl you are playing as is likely in her first years of High School. Her life is in turmoil and she’s become a bit of troublemaker. This is partly influenced by one “friend” in particular. In a way, the story is actually fairly relatable.
This girl (she is never named) has always kept a journal. However, one day it is mysteriously blank and she doesn’t know why. You quickly discover that she’s been up to no good. As you finish each day, the journal fills in from that day and you see a small clip from a circus. It’s not until the end that everything comes together. While this might trouble some people, I felt it was done quite well. You never know “everything” – you only know what this girl chooses to believe or say.
Throughout the game you are presented with choices for what the girl will do. Will she tattle on her “friend”? Will she reveal that she actually did something? It’s up to you. While it has no direct impact on the final reveal at the end of the game, it does slightly impact some dialogue just before that as you speak with everyone.
In the later parts, you are sort of dumped with some plot “reveals” that felt like they might have been better said slightly earlier. Like suddenly finding out stuff about your dad. Sure, I get they were focusing on certain “plot” parts each day but… It felt a little sudden. Especially since he wasn’t present until the very end. While the ending scenes definitely pulled at my heart, this part was still a bit… odd.
Journal, I feel, is presented quite well. The art style is absolutely amazing, with the hand-drawn style in the pages of a journal. The voice acting, while fairly minimal, is also good. Some of the character movements feel pretty rough (especially when jumping), but they are also pretty good overall.
One minor qualm I had came at the end. When your character was doing her final monologue, it seemed to make A (which had worked for the entire game to progress dialogue) no longer work. While I don’t recall if I tried B or not (the other button accepted, and what you used to talk to be), I do believe your only option was to use the keyboard to progress through. This was slightly jarring after having been able to use my controller for the entire rest of the game.
While it is somewhat short for the regular price of $10, it’s more than worth the typical sale price. You’ll likely spend around 2 hours playing the game through, a bit more if you miss achievements such as the Best Ending. So while I can’t recommend it for the regular price, if you’re looking for a story-driven adventure game like this then check it out.
Journal Review Score
Journal is available now on Steam.