One of my Discords got talking about a new idle game for PC and mobile called AFK Journey, so several of us are working through that now. Idle games are kind of nice because they take the tedium of actually playing the game out of the game, but also kind of not nice because in many cases they remove the engagement from the equation.

AFK Journey looks to fix some of that by being not quite an idle game; it’s really an adventure game with idle elements.

Here, you take on the role of “Merlin”, the Magistrar. Merlin is a title, and you’re the current bearer of it, but there’s a problem: you don’t seem to remember very much about your friends, your skills, or your role in the world; it’s not an original story, but considering a portion of this game is designed to run without intervention, I guess it’s as good as it’s gonna get.

Gotta Gamble For Em All!

If you’ve played games like Genshin Impact, Tower of Fantasy, or Honkai Star Rail — and I know you have — then you’d feel comfortable with AFK Journey. As you progress, you gain loot like equipment and in-world currency of all kinds. I don’t even know how many different currencies there are floating around, but again — typical for games of this stripe these days as each currency is used for different purposes like leveling up, buying equipment, and, of course, pulling for new characters.

Requisite Sexy Witch is Sexy.

There’s an obscene number of characters, well over 100. Each one has a class, a faction, a weapon type, and a range listed on their character sheet. They also have several levels of ultimate power that they can unleash when they fill their ult bar in battle.

Although unsanitary, gear is shared by class.

Gear is actually equipped by class which for a game with so many damn characters is actually a fantastic idea. At your HQ there’s a screen which can auto-equip the best class-specific gear you have in your inventory, and you’ll get a notification when you have idle gear that is better than what’s currently assigned. Any excess can be turned into crafting materials which are redeemed for new gear at NPC vendors.

Choose which characters pass judgement on your progress.

Characters are leveled up at the Resonating Hall. Here, you select 6 characters to become the Hands of Resonance, and these are the only characters that you level up. The level of the hall is dictated by the lowest level Hand, but that level translates to all characters that you own, even those who are not assigned to the Hall. In this way, you only need to spend resources on your Hand characters and the rest of your roster will level up to match.

You level characters by spending some of the available currency, and every 10 levels or so they can be ascended to the next tier. There is also a special character-specific token that can be used to transmute the “quality tier” of the character (I believe).

Aloy for scale

The bulk of the game is played in typical CRPG style. You control your Magistrar are are followed by your narrative-relevant party members. You can chat with NPCs both for flavor and for quests, find and open chests, and auto-collect random loot as you pass it by. As you can see in the screenshot above, there’s a mini-map which can be expanded, fast travel points, and a “golden trail” between you and your current quest’s next way point; there is auto-pathing as well if there’s not enough AFK in the AFK Journey for your liking.

Bringin’ the BOOM to the denizens of the forest.

Enemies appear on the screen so you can engage or avoid. When entering combat, you have your entire roster to choose from, and your combat composition is per-engagement so you never really “make a party” that you always use. This allows you to swap characters based on their abilities and faction. You can place them within a starting zone in the lower left corner of the screen, while the enemies occupy the upper right. There is a limit on how many heroes you can field, but I am not sure what controls that, if it expands over time, or if it’s a hard lifetime limit.

Once deployed, your team goes to work automatically. As they fight, their ultimate gauges fill; you can click the gears button to have them auto-proc when their bar is full, otherwise you’ll need to engage their powers manually. Once complete, you get a combat summary and a list of whatever loot you might have found. Any members who were downed during the battle will be automatically healed for the next fight, removing any need to micromanage your roster, which I greatly appreciate.

The actual AFK mechanics are available via a single button. There are two AFK battle modes (that I have seen so far). The first is basic and earns basic items like gear and level-up materials. You can minimize the game and let this roll to collect the items you need to increase your team power. The second mode starts out as normal battles do, where you select your team, place them on the field, and let them do their thing. Each battle progresses the stage and when you reach stage 10 you can use the true auto-battler and roll between combat rounds without intervention. You need to use either the manual or auto-battle mode to progress between rounds, and the milestones also grant you additional, non-material rewards such as the ability to use the chat and to join or create a guild.

The cash shop seems to be fairly standard. There’s a free “new player” bundle, a few less-chancy-but-still-chancy character pull options, cosmetics, and two levels of monthly spigots (which I assume you have to manually renew if its anything like HSR). Prices for the premium currency seem to be on par with other gatcha games out there, so plan accordingly.

I’ve tried a few idle games, thinking that the design conceit would be something useful for my lassiez faire attitude towards mobile gaming as I wouldn’t have to pay attention but could still get the serotonin boost from pressing the 120 million buttons to collect loot and level up my characters, but I have found that if a game is too idle then putting it aside to do its thing means I will always forget to go in and check on it (like Melvor Idle). Other games seem more interesting to me, which makes me believe I would check in more often (Idle Champions), but I guess there’s I have a pretty high “idle threshold” below which I just forget to log in.

Right now AFK Journey looks to be trying to adjust a slider on that threshold by offering an idle mode for those times when I need to step away, or when I decide I want to let it run in the background (like how it’s collecting loot minimized to the taskbar as I write this post). AFK Journey’s main mode is a simple CRPG, though, requiring active participation. There are stories and quests to undertake and lands to explore, so it’s got that extra engagement that I feel has been missing in other idle games that I have tried.

One thing to look out for though: there are individual servers and your server choice locks you into interactions available only to that server. Among those of us who signed up, none of us remember being able to choose our server when we created a character. However, you can create multiple characters, so if you have friends you want to meet up with, create your first character and watch or skip the intro, then create a new character which, for some reason, does allow you to choose a server that you and your friends can all agree on.

AFK Journey is available for mobile and PC, and you can carry progress between platforms if you register your account with Farlight Games.


  • Tipa

    March 29, 2024 - 8:36 am

    Still playing ProgressQuest…

    The last idle game I got into was Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms and it just got so grindy without spending money (and by that I mean a LOT of money) that I had to put it aside. You haven’t mentioned hitting a monetization wall where you really have to spend to progress; I’d be interested to know when that happens for you.

    • Scopique

      March 29, 2024 - 8:46 am

      The good thing about this one is that they have the active CRPG aspect which provides a lot of quests and world-loot that contributes towards advancement. And this game is VERY much like Genshin or HSR with all of the different, unrelated event opportunities that you need to do every day or click every day to earn and collect more loot. As Arkenor mentioned in Discord, they are VERY aggressive about advertising their cash shop, but I think I’m the most behind out of anyone I know who is playing, and no one else has mentioned feeling that they need to spend money to progress yet.

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