Mids Meinberg’s The Warrior’s Journey, is a powerful solo journal RPG that really opened my eyes to how moving the genre can be. It was also a finalist in Game Chef 2018.
The Warrior’s Journey has some very challenging themes and images. The game is open about that from the start, but I was skeptical that it was going to pay off. For my money, it does and Meinberg has earned heaps of respect and trust from me for sticking the landing on a fairly brutal game.
In talking about this game, I’d like to warn you about mentions violence and murder. If those subjects are concerning for you, I can’t recommend this review, let alone The Warrior’s Journey. However, I’ll again say that I feel these themes are handled well and earn the weight of their inclusion in the game. There is no mention of sexual violence, if that subject is a deal breaker for you, as it often is for me.
Also, this game is pretty short, so I’ll try not to spoil too much for you. If you want to go in completely blind, go pick up a copy, take an hour to play it, and come back here and talk about it with us in the comments! From the content and spoiler warnings, you can tell that this game is emotionally challenging, different, and very special to me. This is the first time I’ve had to include such things in a review.
There once was a brutish warrior, famed across the primordial kingdoms for the piles of dead they left in their bloody wake. That’s you. You play a war criminal in an ancient land of soldiers, sieges, and famine. The only thing close to a stat that you have is the body count of your decades-long career as blood-soaked, remorseless commander of killers. The first thing you are asked to do is write the number of people you killed face to face. The second thing you are asked to do is give each one a name and remember their faces and families. That’s the kind of game this is going to be. The Warrior’s Journey is not a fun game. Its value isn’t derived from delight or stimulation, but in acquiring fictional guilt and deciding what, if anything, can be done with it.
The game leads you through short story passages and journal prompts bring you into confrontation with the atrocities wrought with your sword. You have an spiritual reckoning then a journey to undertake. The game text is only 9 pages, including the cover, so I won’t say any more about the story than that. The ending utterly shook me and allows for a complicated conclusion that I believe is truly unique to what Table Top RPGs can deliver. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Meinberg was the first person to fill out the contact form on this site to suggest I play their game. I downloaded one of the community copies available for free. After I played this game, which took about an hour, I immediately went back to the store page to pay the full $5.00 for it. Artists that strong deserves my money. Art that strong is worth my money. And I’m worth the money it takes to do something so nice for myself.
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