Easily one of the best adventure games I have played in the past 3-4 years, The Longest Journey is a delightful adventure with, for once, a truly original and fascinating plot.
Had the game been more aggressively promoted, might be able to rejuvenate the dying genre of traditional inventory-based adventure. Unfortunately, poor sales figures mean that the game may be relegated to the realms of underdogs in the very near future.
The Longest Journey starts out in a peaceful town of Newport, in some unspecified region of future United States. You are April Ryan, a young art student who is struggling to finish her painting, as well as making sense of the nightmares she is suffering from lately. Every character in the game is very well developed, and you'll quickly symphatize with April's friends and detest those that she hates. You also can't help but be quickly drawn into the game by its amazing level of detail: for instance, clicking on most things, no matter how trivial, yield interesting descriptions and April's anecdotes. Anyone who gleefully suffers from the "click-everything-in-sight" syndrome (myself included)-- here is the game you've been waiting for. The plot also gets better and more original the more you play-- I don't want to spoil any surprises here, so let me just say that the game's mixture of science and fantasy is very, very well executed, and there are many surprising twists and turns in the story.
Gameplay, thank goodness, is standard point-and-click affair, with mostly easy puzzles but also some that are quite creative (finding use for a rubber ducky is a case in point). The game also follows the player-can't-die design of LucasArts adventures, so there is no frustrating save-and-restore type of puzzles here (although sometimes the long journey you have to make to retrieve a forgotten item may warrant restoring). The game is also, true to its name, very long: all 4 CDs are packed with gameplay (as opposed to superficial movie fodder of most other games), but you'll be so absorbed you'll be sad to see it end.
There's really nothing wrong I can think of with this game, except that the ending is disappointingly anticlimactic, and voice acting is inconsistent in parts. These nits, however, do nothing to dent this amazing adventure that's well worth the money. Two thumbs up!