AFK Journey
Screenshot via Siliconera

AFK Journey Is a Pleasant and Manageable Mobile Experience

The older I get and the longer I work in this field, the less time I have. As I extend my social network outside of friends I’ve made playing MMORPGs and online, I spend less time gaming. Instead, I opt to go to local bars or restaurants as a way to decompress. One evening while I was out, I saw an ad for AFK Journey on Instagram. I never dipped my toes into its predecessor, but I liked the way this looked and I pre-registered. When the game installed itself on my phone, as most do when you pre-register for them through the Google Play Store, I opened it up on the night of release after a pretty severe bout of insomnia. To my surprise, it’s everything I currently want out of a mobile game both visually and mechanically.

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Between juggling reviews, guides, writing features, and working on other projects, the only time I play games these days is when they’re related to work. I guess AFK Journey falls under this umbrella too, as I’m writing about it, but it is less of a game I play and more of a game that I manage. Players recruit characters through the gacha or special currency obtained by participating in PvP, a special boss mode, and guild activities. Which means there are more than a few ways to expand your roster or increase the rarity of the characters you’ve recruited. Increasing their rarity through feeding them duplicates of themselves is arguably the best way to increase the power of your team.

This means that the free units you get are more than viable for long-term play. I’m still using Valen and Lucius, two low-rank characters that I’ve now managed to make Mythic+ (which is one of the highest tiers of character rank in the game). Character designs are also fantastic, and the visual style of the game is gorgeous. The textures on the individual character models give the impression of being hand-drawn, which is a really lovely effect, and the world itself is lush and vibrant.

Outside of needing to obtain duplicates of characters to upgrade them, you participate in “AFK Battles” to get a set amount of currency per-hour, per-day. This currency is given based on how high your AFK Battle Level is. Right now, I’m at AFK Level 413. This means I’m getting enough resources to reliably level up my characters beyond level 110, which has allowed me to engage in additional content. At one point, I even turned on auto-battle to get me through AFK Battle ranks while I slept, just to see how far I could go with my freshly leveled up characters.

Because while the game doesn’t have stamina attached to every activity, you will hit roadblocks based on what units you may or may not have, or what level they are. This requires you to quite literally just put the game down and come back later. Rewards from your AFK Level are gathered in a chest that can be obtained whenever you want. So you don’t need to constantly load up the game to check back. You maybe need to boot it up once or twice a day to collect your rewards, level up, and then auto-battle to increase your AFK Level if you can.

There are more active activities as well. As I mentioned previously, you can tackle boss fights and guild-related activities. There is also a rogue-like mode that is scaled so you can take whatever character you want to experiment with different team compositions. This was arguably one of my favorite modes, since it involved being a little more strategic on my end when picking what Blessings, stat upgrades you get from beating stages, I wanted to obtain as I navigated the maze. However, these modes more or less build on the foundation of what AFK Journey‘s combat system is, which is auto-battling. Instead of actively picking what moves or characters you will use, the game is focused around picking complimentary team compositions based on who your opponent is or what your objective may be. Sometimes you need to defend a crystal, defeat waves of enemies, or place your characters accordingly to respond to environmental obtrusions. There is enough strategy there to keep you engaged, but not enough to be overwhelming.

I can enjoy AFK Journey on my own time without feeling like I need to constantly engage with the game, since it encourages me to put it down. I have to quite literally stop engaging with the game in order for my characters to grow more powerful. I appreciate that. I appreciate a game that lets me not feel like I’m missing out on any rewards or that I constantly need to be grinding. (Because the game does that for me.) My only complaint is that I want to do more sometimes, but maybe not being allowed to is for the best. It keeps the game low-stress and prevents me from being glued to my phone. For this reason, I can see myself playing AFK Journey for a good while. It’s something I can appreciate, and maybe others will too.

AFK Journey is available for Android and iOS devices and PCs.

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Image of Kazuma Hashimoto
Kazuma Hashimoto
Senior staff writer, translator and streamer, Kazuma spends his time playing a variety of games ranging from farming simulators to classic CRPGs. Having spent upwards of 6 years in the industry, he has written reviews, features, guides, with work extending within the industry itself. In his spare time he speedruns games from the Resident Evil series, and raids in Final Fantasy XIV. His work, which has included in-depth features focusing on cultural analysis, has been seen on other websites such as Polygon and IGN.