Baldur's Gate 2 The Longest Journey Wizardry 8 Arcanum The Black Mirror

Low-Spoiler Guide to Journey to the Center of the Earth

Welcome to my Journey to the Center of the Earth hints page. (-: If you're new to this series, the idea behind my hints pages is pointing gamers towards things they might not have tried in each game, rather than giving step-by-step instructions or divulging puzzle solutions. There's not much point in playing a puzzle game if you know the solutions in advance, after all, and there's certainly no point in playing an investigative reporter unraveling a mysterious conspiracy if you already know the solution. So these pages are as close to spoiler-free as possible while still providing some valuable Journey to the Center of the Earth hints and tips. If you are looking for the answer to a particular puzzle, I recommend the UHS site--due to the way their pages are set up you can only see one hint at a time, so you can get the answer to one pesky puzzle without ruining all the others for yourself. My site, meanwhile, focuses on exactly the things UHS and other traditional walkthroughs don't: the non-critical parts of the game, little detours you can take, extra details you might miss if you did only what was strictly necessary to complete the game. If you want even fewer spoilers--you're considering whether or not to buy the game, for example--please try my Journey to the Center of the Earth Review page to find all the pertinant information in one convenient spoiler-free package.

Now, on with the game!

Journey to the Center of the Earth Hints and Tips
Journey to the Center of the Earth Walkthrough
Journey to the Center of the Earth Cheats and Links
The Backseat Game Designer: Journey to the Center of the Earth Critique

Journey to the Center of the Earth Hints and Tips

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a modern graphic adventure game, in which you use a simple 3D point-and-click interface to move a pre-assigned character through a sequence of puzzles and a largely linear plot. There are no realtime or action elements to the game, and no manual dexterity is needed. The plot is a clever mystery consipracy set in an interesting steampunk gameworld; unfortunately, the execution of this game was mediocre to poor, and it can be genuinely unpleasant to slog through in places. Knowing a few things about the interface and gameplay in advance can help you get maximum enjoyment out of the game, so without spoiling anything:

Bugs: There are two critical bugs in Journey to the Center of the Earth (by which I mean bugs that can wreck your game and, if you haven't been using good savegame habits, could cause you to have to either give up or start all over again from scratch.) Both of these occur in the giant village, so at the very least, make a special savegame immediately upon exiting the balloon (before speaking to the first giant) and never write over it. You won't want to have to replay the giant village multiple times, either (this part of the game can be insanely boring,) so I'll give you the details on avoiding both bugs. First, don't leave the scene with mammoths in it until you have located and picked up some mammoth hair, and don't put anything into the magic pool until you have the mammoth hair and BOTH shells in your possession, because if you don't put all three objects in the pool at the same time, your game can be permanantly spoiled. Second, the Floating Garden puzzle is broken. There's no way to reset the puzzle once you've pulled the stone tongue once, and it's impossible to figure out which sound each pair of totem makes without pulling the tongue, so unless you're REALLY lucky or are working from a walkthrough, the only way to solve the puzzle is to save the game before starting, use trial and error to figure out the solution, and then restore your game. Since trial and error is very annoying to execute here and the smallest mistake will doom your game, the best workaround is to save your game before touching anything and then use a walkthrough. There's an illustrated solution to this puzzle about halfway down this page--be careful, because there are explicit spoilers all over that page, but it's the only one I've found that has pictures of each totem pole, and because of the poor navigation in this area, it's easy to make a mistake working from instructions like "the second totem as you go clockwise from the bottom, then the fourth totem clockwise from the bottom." If you don't anticipate that being a problem for you, I've put the solution on my low-spoiler walkthrough as well, where you won't have to worry about the plot spoilers.

Time Management: Time does not pass in Journey to the Center of the Earth. Just waiting will never, ever cause anything in the game to change, even things that seem like they should only last a minute or two. You will have to be proactive--no one will move from their spot unless Ariane distracts them herself. And if being proactive doesn't work, you'll have to be random (i.e., go to a different location and solve an unrelated puzzle, to find that when you return the person you were waiting for will have arrived.) On the bright side, though, you will never have to worry about deadlines. Nothing will ever happen in this game without direct help from you.

Movement: For the most part movement in Journey to the Center of the Earth is standard for its genre, but there are two exceptions that can cause headaches for you. First, different perspectives of the same room are sometimes treated as different "scenes," with objects accessible from one angle and not from another. Adam's hut is the worst offender here--there are two rooms, but two different views of each of them, and it's difficult to move from one to the next without skipping past it into the other room. I missed a scene entirely my first time in this hut, and therefore missed a valuable object. Second, the "footprints" cursor that is supposed to indicate exits from each screen frequently fails to work. On many occasions, you must manually walk to the border of the screen to see if Ariane can find an exit over there. I've pointed out some of these situations in my walkthrough, but in any event, stay alert and if you find yourself stuck, check for 'hidden' exits from familiar screens.

Ariane's Camera: This was very confusing to me. Ariane has a camera in her interface. Given that she's a photojournalist, it's natural to assume that this is going to be an important game device. In most adventure games, when you have a camera, you can use it to take pictures of something you want to remember later (like the riddle above that seals puzzle, for example,) to save yourself from having to sketch it yourself. In this game, though, you can't. Ariane automatically uses the camera to add pictures to the "pictures" folder of her laptop, but they're of no use at any point in the game, nor do you have any control over what she photographs. The camera is totally useless, and you can't do anything with it at any point in the game. Ignore it completely.

Ariane's Gloves: Ariane starts the game off with a pair of gloves, which are necessary for her to wear in order to manipulate most of the tools in the game. However, there's a glitch with these gloves (at least I assume it's a glitch): they pop off her hands every time she uses an object. So you'll put her gloves on her to do some electrical work, and after she's done the first part, you'll be clicking all over the screen in frustration wondering how to get her to make the next connection. The problem is her gloves came off when you clicked on the first part. You need to go back into inventory and put them back on. Any time Ariane isn't succeeding at manipulating an object with her hands, try going into her inventory and checking her gloves.

Ariane's Laptop: This gameplay device is one I liked. Clicking the laptop cursor on unusual objects lets Ariane research them for more information (an awesome idea, especially for an investigative mystery,) but unfortunately you won't see this cursor available very often. More frequently, you will be able to use the laptop to scan in documents, which you can then read at any time by going to the "documents" folder of the laptop. And sometimes, the laptop will begin flashing for no apparent reason. This is because Ariane has just received an email. You can read them by going to the "email" folder--none of them are important to gameplay, and Ariane cannot respond to any of them, but some of the early ones add to the plot tension, and unlike Kate's cellphone in Syberia, Ariane's email is easily skimmable and will, like real email, wait patiently until you feel like reading it.

Feedback: Journey to the Center of the Earth gives you almost no feedback on any of the objects or dilemmas you encounter--you usually can't tell what an object is until Ariane picks it up, at which point it acquires a label in her inventory, and frequently have no idea what you're supposed to be accomplishing with the objects you do find. This game was not originally written in English, and it is VERY inelegantly translated--when Ariane does have a comment to make, it is frequently a baffling non sequitur, a pointless aside, or, worst of all, a total miscommunication (like saying "I don't have enough information," leading me to go off looking for some more information, when in fact what she wanted me to do was use an inventory object.) In my walkthrough, I address some of the game's more directionless moments and some of Ariane's more inscrutable comments for you, but the main thing you need to keep in mind is not to take anything she says for granted, or you'll be off on wild goose chases more often than you might expect.

Go on to the Journey to the Center of the Earth walkthrough...

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Laura Redish
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