While both of these games do fall under the same genre of point and click adventure at the core they are very different games. The Longest Journey is fantasy adventure filled with magic and wonder; while Sanitarium is a dark demented trek into the psyche of a tormented man. If this was back when they were released then I would not be combining these reviews, but now they share something unique in common. And that is that they have both weathered the test of time and come out completely unscathed.
Many old games, even very good personal favourites, who are played now seem disappointingly antiquated. But a few games manage to retain their magic and two of these games are The Longest Journey and Sanitarium. If released today I have confidence that many video game critics would rate both of these games with similar scores as they got over a decade ago.
The Longest Journey has been a favourite of mine for quite some time, and without a doubt is one of the best point and click adventure game of all time. It really does a fabulous job of telling an interesting story and drawing you into it.
In the game you play as April Ryan, a art student, who is teleported to a alternate world, a world of magic. Their she learns that her world is only one of two parallel worlds (one of technology and one of magic) and they are both in danger of destruction. So she embarks on her quest to save them both.
Sanitarium is also a very well though of adventure game, the main different being the story and general theme of the game. Where The Longest Journey is magical Sanitarium is demented, where The Longest Journey fills the player with wonder Sanitarium fills the player with foreboding and confusion.
In Sanitarium you play a mental patient "struggling with inner demons, wrestling with soul-wrenching torment, battling to regain even a slippery grip on reality" and remember who he is and what has happened to him. The story is told like a mystery, where you slowly unfold what has happened to you, but with one key difference. At every step, after gaining just a little incite into yourself and your history, you question if what you have learned is true, or if it is just a representation of the truth, or if you are just completely insane. You play the game partly in the protagonists delusions and partly in what at least appears to be reality. In the delusions the protagonist takes on different personas, and this is not just a visual change these personas have unique powers and abilities that add some diversity to the gameplay.