How does Journey of Wrestling play on Steam? Full Review

As Journey of Wrestling releases on Steam, Daily DDT had a chance to preview the game and construct a review of its transition from a browser boredom buster into a fully fledged wrestling management experience.
Journey of Wrestling [LRG].jpg
Journey of Wrestling [LRG].jpg /

It's June 5 which means Journey of Wrestling, the popular wrestling management simulator, has officially released on Steam.

Daily DDT received a review code courtesy of JoW's creator, Mahin, and thus a sneak peek at the title before its release. And for someone who has already played the game on mobile and desktop browsers, it might be a pleasant surprise to see its grown-up sibling on Steam.

JoW on browser had been perhaps the most modern and accessible e-booking simulator on the market already. Boasting a basic yet cleanly designed UI, the player could be dropped into a contemporary, classic, or fictional scenario which pit them at the helm of any real or custom-made promotion.

The game thrived upon its community, with a few scenarios penned by the creator himself but hundreds more added by users. The pool of scenarios is so rich that one could (and did) find scenarios even made bespoke to boxing and MMA fans - granted, with the shortcomings of running legitimate combat sports promotions within a wrestling booking simulator. Even if the player can't find exactly what it is they're craving, they can put on their own creative hat to create a scenario both for themselves and others to access.

But there were, admittedly, some questions over how - and to what extent - the game would be brought to Steam.

Sure enough, when the player starts the game they are welcomed by serene background music a la Minecraft. This is a little touch but it definitely adds to the immersion factor, and it helped to immediately separate JoW on Steam from the browser version. Those who were worried they might lose any previous progress need not fret, as there is the opportunity to log in to the account used on browser. Other than that, there is virtually nothing stopping the player from beginning the scenario.

Some games suffer a translation process of sorts when hitting another platform. Sometimes little tweaks are made after the fact to smooth rough edges. But Journey of Wrestling doesn't appear to suffer that at all. In less than five minutes, a modern wrestling scenario with contemporary promotions and rosters is loaded and the player is booking their first event.

The first show is always the hardest to book, starting a clean slate and establishing the ground work for the future. It's important to note that JoW scenarios can't really record anything that happened before the player picked up the pencil. It can break the immersion initially, but it's an understandable shortcoming to a game without licenses and solely reliant on its community for accurate iterations. This isn't an issue one should experience if they're playing the official scenarios, purely fictional and designed to serve as a campaign for players wanting a story.

There are several ways for a player to adapt their experience through each playthrough outside of the scenarios. Standard game mode puts the player in the unenviable position of managing finances, fatigue/injuries, retirements, and specific incidents whilst also getting word from above about how the show should be run. Sandbox allows the player to pick and choose their limitations; given the right tweaking a player can find themselves booking 75-year-old Sting in a seven-star rated Texas Deathmatch after a few in-game years. So it really is up to the player as to what happens within their scenario. As one continues to book, they can encounter random requests and issues relating to their talent. For an example, a loading screen after finally winning the WWE Women's World Championship, Tiffany Stratton decided she wanted to put over Zelina Vega. The issue being that Vega was on 0-4 record when the request was made.

One can decide if they want to reject the request or, much like a 'Fallout' charisma check, the talent can be asked to change their request. At the player's peril, however, as the next request has to be given a firm answer and it can oftentimes throw a wrench in the works more than the first. If "That doesn't work for me, pal," is the answer then the talent in question will lose happiness. Happiness can affect a performer's output, hindering the much-desired star rating and fan interest. But also take note that giving in to the request might carry its own implications. Nobody said it was easy being in charge.

Journey of Wrestling is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an opportunity for the player to craft their own journey in wrestling, and it is steadily receiving more and more features. The issues really only arise when a player gets 10+ years within a scenario, which is an obscene amount of time to be booking weekly and monthly shows but somewhat inevitable throughout this review process. Depending on the value one places on history and keeping records, especially in the case of long-term or revisited booking, there starts to become a slow and limbering process to retrace footsteps. The game is still relatively fresh and this is a menial issue. But as noted if there is a particular investment into a single playthrough then it might start to get monotonous after a while.

It can be too easy to craft anyone into a main event talent, irrespective of who they are, as best exemplified with playthroughs during the review process which saw a 54-year-old Tatanka become 'Face of the Company' in WWE and Zeus as a worthy top champion. The latter of which to the extent that it was considered negative to title prestige to have Randy Savage later win it.

However, that's more of a testament to the fact that it takes so long to truly take issue with anything that Journey of Wrestling offers. Previous booking simulators fell short for their difficulty to just jump in and play. JoW circumvents that issue and provides both the easiest to access and in-depth booking experience. Putting it on Steam just provides a larger platform for the title to grow and address the scarce shortcomings it has. Subjectively, it's the best value for money out of the entire wrestling video game market, including AEW Fight Forever and WWE 2K, and it's clear to see it was conceptualized, coded, and implemented by someone who truly loves wrestling.

Final Verdict: 9/10

Journey of Wrestling is a complete booking experience from the moment the menu opens. It should serve as an example for future releases to follow and is far and away the best of its kind. I am excited to see how and where the game grows following the Steam release and I urge players to check it out and support the project if they agree.

Journey of Wrestling is now available to purchase on Steam here.