Journey of the Light is going to go down in the history books as an amazing pratfall or a shocking scam.
As you no doubt recall, Valve recently introduced a new Steam refund policy allowing players to request their money back within 14 days of purchase providing they haven’t played a game for more then two hours.
This is important background information for the amazing story ahead. Introducing Journey of the Light, a Steam release which has provoked Valve into offering no-questions-asked refund policy.
“We have enabled refunds for all owners of Journey of the Light, regardless of playtime or purchase date,” Valve wrote in a Steam Community post.
This not totally unprecedented but certainly very rare occurrence came about after players began to believe that the game contains only one unsolvable level, despite boasting of and having achievements in place for seven.
It’s not just that nobody has ever solved that first level; PCGamesN reports Journey of the Light players dug into the game’s code and found no way to access subsequent levels.
Making matters worse, developer Lord Kres told players that they could solve the first level using clues found in the game’s Steam Trading Cards. Which won’t drop until you’ve played two hours of a game. When the normal refunds policy would have expired.
Now of course it’s entirely possible this is all a misunderstanding, and indeed that’s the position Lord Kres has taken. In a Steam Community post on August 30, the developer said they had “just heard” about the missing levels.
“That is not how it is supposed to be. It seems that I did something wrong when I released Bug Fix #1,” Lord Kres said, referring to an update of June 18.
“I did test the game after the bug fix, but I only checked that the bugs were gone. I will roll the game back to its former state and then fix the bugs again and make sure this won’t happen again. I am very sorry about this issue. Thank you for letting me know about this.”
Yesterday Lord Kres followed up with a second post on the matter, reiterating the message above and apologising again.
“Although it seems that it doesn’t even matter what I say, here is still my announcement: I have now rolled back the game and I will be testing the levels,” they wrote.
“I’m not going to defend myself, since that will not help. I made a mistake with builds, and I am truly sorry about that. Nothing more I can do about this.”
The developer said they have “tried to be friendly and kind” and understands that players feel “betrayed” and “angry”.
“I have tried to fix it, but all the damage has been already done. I am not a scammer. All I wanted is to create a new kind of gaming experience for all of you,” Lord Kres concluded.
Valve announced refunds on Journey of the Light the following day. It’s quite possible it did so on Lord Kres’s request, as the game has indeed been rolled back, and is no longer available to purchase on Steam.
If it is all a horrible mix up as Lord Kres claims, it’s a cautionary tale for developers. Lord Kres has been quite communicative over the past week, but prior to that it took the developer almost two weeks to notice that the bulk of its game had gone missing, which is less than ideal.
Still, you have to feel sorry for them. And it’s not like even triple-A developers are immune to uploading the wrong build to Steam.