The Voyage Review (iOS)
A year and a half ago Toy Studio released The Curse, a unique puzzle game featuring a masked stranger who guided you through over 100 puzzles in your quest to solve a mystery. Toy Studio returns with The Voyage, a pirate themed puzzle adventure. Is this follow up a bountiful mobile treasure or is it just straight up booty?
Captain Bodnar Bucklebeard is your sometimes sober guide through this puzzling game. With 100 puzzles to solve, your goal is to complete a secret treasure map and figure out the whereabouts of Velvet Marley's treasure. It's the same formula as The Curse, and if it worked well for that game, why screw things up with a quasi-sequel.
After sitting through some cutscenes (you'll want to watch them because Bucklebeard gives you clues as you go along), you'll dive right into the puzzles. Like The Curse, you can choose the order in which you complete them. Each puzzle has a difficulty indicator, but that didn't mean much. I found puzzle 100 easier to beat than a lot of earlier, similar puzzles.
You will see the same kind of puzzles throughout the game. This is both a blessing and a curse. Some of the puzzles, like Wooden Shapes, Labyrinth, Water Blocks, etc. are versions of puzzles you've played before in other games. Because of complaints about timed puzzles in The Curse, there are very few timed puzzles in The Voyage. Which is a good thing, because timed puzzles suck, and the few timed ones here suck as well. If you're going to time players on a puzzle where you have to match pairs of images, give us more time to do it. It's not like the iPhone 5 has a big enough screen to see such minute detail in tiny images. It made me wish I still had my iPad.
As you progress, you'll pick up pieces to a treasure map. Each section you collect can rotate on the map. Once you've collected all the pieces, rotate each square until you can see the big picture. There are other puzzles and clues strewn throughout. Look for clues and scribbles on some of the pages to uncover them. There will be moments in the game where you're tasked with peculiar activities, like making Bucklebeard a sandwich or trying to pick the pocket of a sleeping pirate. It's certainly strange.
Some of the puzzles I enjoyed playing, and some I absolutely despised. Sand & Pearls was a chore. Sequence Device made little sense and I only solved it by trial and error. Path Over? I had no clue at all what I was supposed to be doing. Even after reading the directions over and over I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do. But if I want to beat the game I have to complete it. Does this make The Voyage frustrating? That depends on what kind of gamer you are. I don't play puzzle games for the easy factor, so I'm willing to be patient with my stupidity.
You can share your progress after each puzzle solved on Facebook or Twitter, but if you do that I guarantee you'll lose followers and people will hide your feed within 24 hours. If you get stuck, you can use coins to give you hints in each puzzle. Some you earn through the game, but you can buy a pack of 50 for $1.99, which isn't too bad. I hate in-app purchases, but The Voyage doesn't shove the option in your face, which is nice.
One thing I did notice is that even though I solved a puzzle, it wouldn't register as me having beaten it. Puzzle 89 sits there, with no way for me to pass it. I solved it, but the game, for some unknown reason, won't recognize that I solved it. Hell, I even used a hint coin to lock some of the puzzle in place just to be sure it wasn't some oversight and it still won't recognize the solution. My hands are tied on this one. Hopefully they update quickly and fix these bugs.
Is The Voyage worth taking? Depends on if you liked The Curse or not. if you did, you'll enjoy Toy Studio's latest, despite some of the puzzles being downright unenjoyable. It's a worthy download for the puzzle-solving treasure hunter in all of us.
This review is based on a purchased copy of The Voyage for iOS.