Screenshot from the PC Game, "Journal."

Screenshot from the PC Game, Journal.

 

Journal, a game by Locked Door Puzzle (available on Steam for $1.49 through Jan 4th, $9.99 after Jan 4th) grows on you. What first appears to be a distinct lack of player agency eventually evolves into a relationship between the player and the character that is unique and compelling. The premise is simple: a high school aged girl wakes up one morning to find that her journal is empty. You play her as she goes about her life. At first it seems almost trivial, but gradually, it becomes clear that something is happening, or has happened, and you are playing through the aftermath. The ending is heartbreaking, but refreshingly honest. I thought when I was about halfway through the game that I would come here to tell you all not to play it, but the truth is, this game redeems itself. There is a lot of pointing and clicking, and dialog trees (with different potential outcomes), but there are no puzzles and certainly no stealth or combat. Total game time is a couple hours at most. You should definitely give it a go if you like strong storytelling and the type of game often labeled as “visual novel.”