Did/Do You Like Marc Blank's Journey?

How do you feel about Journey?
  • It’s good
  • It’s bad
  • Never played it
  • Never played it because it’s not accessible

0 voters

Journey was one of Infocom’s late formal experiments. It featured several graphical images–many of them appealing for their time–and, quite provocatively, it did not have a traditional parser.

As you can see in the image below, the game is played by selecting commands that are contextual. Actions are available either due to player location or else due to previous player actions. I think this feature might have bothered players 20 or more years ago, but menu/choice systems are better appreciated now.

The game is not without issues. There are some rather dire resource-management constraints, and the story returns to an old Tolkienian well. Perhaps Blank finally got around to reading Lord of the Rings.

I don’t like the game personally, but I do see it as a valid and worthwhile experiment. My primary concern is that Journey likely has accessibility problems that most Infocom games don’t.

It isn’t a lot of work to get running, but it also isn’t fire and forget like the Zork games.

Note: I should be working on my podcast about Journey instead of making threads about Journey.

e: paging Torbjörn Andersson

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I’m not too happy with it, but who knows? Maybe some people do. IMO, this is a really, really hardcore VN, thus dooming it to niche audience.

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pretty apt. Always moving forward, no takebacks. I think it looks more inviting than it really is. As Jimmy Maher and others have pointed out, the manual even claims that “There are no ‘dead ends’ in Journey; feel free to experiment and take chances. Every action you take will cause the story to move forward.”

Which is only true if fail states move the story forward. The game is pretty punishing.

Marc Blank definitely liked to mix things up.

I wasn’t very happy with it at the time, since (a) I only wanted more parser games; (b) the story and setting felt very low-effort; (c) most of the game was the resource puzzle, and the resource puzzle was not fun.

However, that one language puzzle was brilliant and I loved the experience of figuring it out.

That’s pretty much the only thing about Journey that I remember now.

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I very much enjoyed it back when I first played it. Even though I had to start over from the beginning because I hadn’t written down the clues for the final puzzles.

The game probably does what it set out to do, and does so quite well indeed. I like fantasy, and I used to read a lot of “choose your own adventure” type books - primarily the Lone Wolf ones - so it ticked all the right boxes for me.There are still bits of it that I remember fondly.

I guess it comes down to whether you enjoy the story, and how willing you are to overlook its obvious flaws. (Those resource limitations… didn’t any tester at the time object?)


This was a problem for me, too. There was a dark time between the failure of my 1541 drive and my acquisition of a x486 PC. I binged Infocom games for months, but it would be years before I tried Journey.

I liked the rather ridiculously named “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Super Endless Quest Adventure Gamebooks,” though looking back, I think they were more punishing than Journey!

It is hard to imagine. I wonder if Blank’s role as contractor complicated the process. Infocom and Blank certainly didn’t have the sorts of remote collaboration tools we have now.

ALSO: I am replaying it for the first time in ages because I need a transcript for the podcast. I ran out of fire essence perhaps 3/4 or so through the game. No idea where I either wasted or missed some! My goodness.

For me, the biggest problem is not running out of air essence. If I play the game as fairly as I can (i.e. not skipping any optional background information), I’m using up the very last of the air essence to get to the final puzzle. Fortunately, you don’t need any more after that.

If you need it (and didn’t save a copy), I made sure the Wayback Machine cached a copy of my Journey walkthrough before the host where I used to keep it went down. I tried to explain where the essences are found and needed, as well as I could understand it: https://web.archive.org/web/20210618063317/http://www.update.uu.se/~d91tan/Infocom/journey-guide.html

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What interpreter run properly this game?
I can’t run it appropiately, eventhough this is a z6 file.

  • Jade

It is a little fussy. Here’s my setup/advice

  • I use Windows Frotz
  • I use the PC Masterpieces version (courtesy of Zarf)
  • I set the interpreter number in Frotz to match the file: MSDOS
  • download the blorb (graphics file) here
  • IMPORTANT: names of Z-code file and blorb file must match AND be in the same directory/folder
    – for example, journey.z6 and journey.blb
    – It doesn’t matter what the names are, so long as they match


  • I think it’s coded to run at a specific resolution, so window resizes will not achieve anything and may actually cause problems
  • If you use a big font, it may cause display problems. There are set “areas” for text that you don’t want to overfill. It’ll make sense when you see it.

Good luck! let me know if you have problems

Thanks for this. I’m still trying to do it on my own, but I will look at it when I’m done just to see what I may have missed.

UPDATE: Beat it, should’ve used lightning instead of flare in one spot. The last puzzle is pretty cool. Thank goodness for scrollback!


I have fond memories of playing the game on a Macintosh SE many years ago. I do not remember how far I got but I have got it running using Windows Frotz with the instructions above so I am going to give it another try (all Macintosh interpreters failed).

There is also a copy up on the Internet Archive in the Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces of Infocom that can be played for those who are interested but don’t want to fiddle with getting it running locally.


I don’t use Windows, so SDL Frotz is my terp of choice for all z6 games.

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This is a tough one!

On one hand I have to give Journey full credit for launching my interest in IF as a whole. On the other I agree that there were definite frustrations - an understatement - in terms of gameplay and ‘fairness’. The lack of a parser interface made it easy to play, but it was offset by things like the essence management system. Perhaps at the time I just took it all in stride as I had nothing to compare it to (I hadn’t played any parser-based games prior to this).

In this case I will go with the 12 year old in me and say Good!


I think I prefer the b&w art. Looks really nice.

I tried another version on the archive and couldn’t get it to work. I’ll hang onto this link!

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It looks like it’s possible to replicate the Journey interface in Inform 7 using a few extensions.

Several open questions remain.

  1. Is it possible to replicate the Journey world model in Inform 7, displaying appropriate responses based on player selections?

  2. Is it possible to hide the old-style parser a runtime?

  3. Can existing interpreters be modified to support a clickable interface?

  4. Does anyone know of a way to extract the images from the original Journey CPIC/PIC files?

Regarding #1, I don’t see why not though it would probably take some time.

Regarding #2, the old-style parser should probably be hidden for release but could remain active during development and function as a REPL console.

Regarding #3, I was thinking of Lectrote since it’s cross-platform but there might be others. @zarf Any thoughts?

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You can look at the Bigger Than You Think source (https://eblong.com/zarf/zweb/btyt/btyt-src.html) for an example of clickable links and a passage/choice game model in I7. I also supported (single-word) keyboard input for that game, but I didn’t have to.

(It’s for a pretty old version of I7, but adapting it to the current release is possible.)

I debated making yet another Journey thread but decided that this bump would make for less clutter in the long run.

Is anyone aware of any writeups on Journey? Even bad ones. I have the CRPG Addict, Jimmy Maher, and what littile is posted on the IFDB page (it’s not a popular title). Callie and I are finally going to record the podcast this weekend, but I’m feeling a bit light on sources.

E: I’ve listened to Kay and Carrington too

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It’s not much at all, but Graeme Cree has four bugs listed.

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Thanks for those. I was able to guess without looking that @eriktorbjorn had submitted them. That isn’t a dig. They are the most knowledgeable person I’ve encountered when it comes to Journey!


I cant run journey properly in muy iPad. I download the blb and z6 file, move both to my iPad fólder, rename z6 to journey and launch It by sharing with frotz but no graphics are shown.

I mainly play on Windows devices, so I don’t have an answer. There are definitely people here who would be able to help. They probably aren’t following this thread about Journey (it wasn’t very popular). You may be able to get some answers if you start a new thread.

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