Similar to Beyond Good & Evil, The Longest Journey’s main selling point isn’t its gameplay, but its story, world, and characters. The story is stronger than most good movies and novels I read, and the world is richer and the characters more believable. Despite the unusual settings and fantastic premise, it was surprisingly easy to suspend disbelief.
The art direction is beautiful, consistent, and perfectly matched to the world. The dialogue is believable and compelling, and the voice acting, often a weak point, is unusually good. The music is breathtaking.
As for gameplay, it’s a traditional inventory-based point-and-click adventure game. I grew up on the old-school LucasArts and Sierra games, so I loved it. The puzzles are well designed, and always fit with the world. No ridiculous combine-cell-phone-with-potted-plant puzzles here. It’s also fairly long, which could be good or bad, depending on your perspective.
Regardless, if you like adventure games, you should definitely try the demo. Even if you don’t, try it anyway. You might be surprised!
P.S. If you’re on Windows XP and you notice performance problems, see my The Longest Journey slow on Windows XP page.