Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne (known as Journey to the Moon in the United Kingdom) is a point-and-click adventure game with pre-rendered graphics, developed by Kheops Studio and published by The Adventure Company for the PC in 2005. The game's story focuses on a French adventurer's journey to the moon in the 19th century, and the ancient lunar civilization he finds there.
Voyage is loosely based on the novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by science-fiction author Jules Verne, and the novel The First Men in the Moon by science-fiction author H.G. Wells. Reactions to the game were generally mixed. In particular, some reviewers praised it for immersing the player in the look and feel of the 19th century; others have criticized it for featuring out-of-date graphics and dull textures.
While staying true to most adventure game conventions, Voyage has unique features for its genre. These include two dexterity minigames that take advantage of the lack of gravity in the game's lunar setting, and an "Intelligence Management System", in which a score is assigned to the player for every puzzle the player solves, and for certain actions. The Adventure Company introduced this feature to motivate players to replay the game to increase their cumulative score.
The main focus of Voyage is on puzzle-solving. The player can move by clicking, and can swivel the camera 360 degrees. There are several types of puzzle in Voyage including those involving native plant life on the moon, mechanical puzzles, two randomized sound puzzles, and mathematical puzzles. Many require the player to decipher and use the native language of the moon.
Voyage features two unique dexterity minigames. Using a low-gravity setting, the first minigame requires the player to collect floating bubbles in a can, and the second requires the player to execute large jumps across the surface of the moon. These two minigames form only a minor part of the game. The game also has several timed sequences requiring the player to complete puzzles under a time limit. The consequence of failing a puzzle of this sort is death, but Voyage is quite forgiving in this regard and the player is returned to the point in time directly before they were killed. Timed sequences are not the only place the player can be killed; death can be a result of an incorrect action, but the player will still be returned to the point before this occurred.
A critical aspect of gameplay in Voyage is the inventory system, which allows the player to pick up and keep dozens of items. However, the maximum quantity of a certain item that the player may keep in the inventory at any one time is three. One of the main uses of the inventory is to combine items together to make new items. This process of breaking and reforming items in the inventory comprises a large portion of the game's puzzles. The inventory can also be used to create meals which the player can consume, and this ability plays a major role in several puzzles in Voyage. The inventory can be used to create hybrid lunar plants, which play a critical role in the earlier puzzles of the game.
Intelligence Management System
The "Intelligence Management System" featured in Voyage is a score assigned to the player by the inhabitants of the moon. For each puzzle the player solves, and for certain actions, the score is increased and the inhabitants of the moon treat the player with more respect. During an interview with GamersInfo, Benoît Hozjan, Managing Director and co-founder of Kheops Studio, described the system, saying:
|“||For Voyage, you have the universe famous 'lunar IQ'. For instance, during a quiz, players who answer randomly should have fewer points, the players will be not restricted but it will take much more time to progress... The player will have different ways to enter a new room. Sometimes the clues are very subtle but almost each time there are 2 or 3 clues to solve a challenge and a higher IQ may help you!||”|
In the same interview, Alexis Lang, the Lead Game Designer at Kheops, commented that: "[A] low score does not mean that you are stupid in any way, it just means that some pompous and bombastic lunar people think that your character is dumb!" This reflects the fact that the "Intelligence Management System" is designed primarily to earn the respect of the moon's inhabitants. However, Hozjan also said that he hopes "players will try to increase their score and certainly share their experience through forums." The Adventure Company has marketed the system as bringing a degree of replay value to Voyage, as players can replay the game to achieve a higher score.
Voyage is set in the year 1851. President Barbicane of the 'Gun Club' decides to build an enormous cannon in Baltimore to shoot a shell, capable of supporting human life, towards the moon in the hopes of a successful landing. Voyage's protagonist, Michel Ardan, volunteers to travel in the aluminium shell. After the game's brief introduction in the shell, Ardan lands on the moon and discovers the intelligent creatures and lush plant life living there. The main accessible areas in the game are the moon's surface, and the underground Selenite civilization.
The 'Selenites' are the subterranean inhabitants of the moon, and are a highly intelligent society maintained by hierarchy and secret. They possess blue skin, large black eyes and transparent cerebral lobes on the sides of their heads, and look nothing like stereotypical aliens. They are divided into castes. The Selenites live in a large complex under the surface of the moon, which they rarely venture from, with the exception of the 'exiles'. The Selenites "banish the dregs of their society, the criminals and psychotics," to the surface of the moon. There are three Selenite exiles, which live on the surface and sleep in their isolated underground stables at night. Each exile has two different plants on either shoulder with which they share a special bond.
The player character is Michel Ardan, an eccentric and intrepid French scientist who is enthusiastic, daring and cheerful. The other characters on the shell include President Barbicane, the President of the Gun Club, and Captain Nicholl, an engineer, both of whom accompany Ardan on his trip. Neither is seen alive during the game. The character Diana is mentioned, but little about her is revealed other than her 'Lunatic' ancestors who made contact with the Selenites, and her attempts to seduce Barbicane and Nicholl. Apart from these human characters, there are also several Selenite characters such as the Supreme Moon Ruler, the High Dignitary, Scurvy, Scruple, and the exiles.
Voyage begins as Ardan awakes in the shell and discovers his two dead companions: Barbicane and Nicholl. He finds a note written by Barbicane, explaining that he and Nicholl had sacrificed themselves for Ardan, as there was insufficient oxygen to support three men. Ardan also finds a note that Barbicane had concealed in his hat from Diana, and a love letter from Diana to Nicholl. Once Ardan successfully lands on the moon, he must solve a series of puzzles on the surface in order to gain access the hidden civilization below. There he encounters the Selenite civilization. Then Ardan focusses on finding a way to leave the moon and report his findings to Earth. During his adventure, Ardan acquires a 'Belbaab Conch' shell, which allows him to talk to the rooster, who tells him what happened to Barbicane and Nicholl. After acquiring what he needs, Ardan travels back to Earth in the shell. He lands in the ocean and manages to swim to a nearby island, where he meets Captain Nemo.
Journey to the Center of the Moon was announced for the PC at E3 2005. The Adventure Company collaborated with developers Kheops Studios for the release. Benoît Hozjan, the co-founder of Kheops Studio, became Managing Director of the game, while Alexis Lang became the Lead Game Designer.
Journey to the Center of the Moon was later renamed Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne. Benoît Hozjan explained the change, saying that Journey to the Center of the Moon "seems to be confusing and some people thought that it could be the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth," another Verne-inspired PC game, "so marketing decided to change it." The name was changed on July 7, 2005, a few months after the game's announcement.
Benoît Hozjan explained Kheops Studio's choice of Jules Verne's work as a basis for Voyage, saying that: "Jules Verne's novels provide the two core elements of adventure games: dreams and challenges. Characters are ordinary men engaged in concrete challenges that are [a] great inspiration for puzzles." He further went on to say that the game is influenced by Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, which documents the lead up to the lunar trip, but draws more heavily from the sequel Around the Moon, which recounts the actual voyage. The main difference, Hozjan said, was that in the novel the protagonists fail to reach the moon, whereas in Voyage the trip is a success. Additionally, Alexis Lang attributed the inspiration for the Selenites to H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon, explaining that: "[Wells] pictured a very ancient Selenite civilisation horrified at human roughness. Wells was more misanthropist than Verne. To balance this fact, we've added a touch of irony in our story and chosen a very optimistic and joyful main character."
The Adventure Company announced the release of the Voyage demo on August 3, 2005. The demo included the game's introduction in the shell. Voyage, originally slated for a September 27 release, was shipped to stores ahead of schedule on August 16, 2005. The game retailed for US$19.99.