Rovio's Angry Birds series has seen many forms over the years. It all kicked off with a fantastic slingshot game, but in recent years Rovio has been treading water with low-effort bubble poppers and match-3 titles, which is hardly worth writing home about. Surprisingly Rovio has just announced the soft launch of Angry Birds Journey, and to my amazement, it looks like Rovio has finally gone back to its roots with a new entry in the core slingshot series.

Above, you can find the trailer for Angry Birds Journey, which briefly shows the game in action. As you can see, Angry Birds has gone back to its roots with the return of slingshot mechanics. Much like the original game, you'll spend your time leisurely rocketing birds at towers made up of blocks and pigs. Since this is a puzzle game, solving each stage gets more and more challenging as you progress, and since each bird brings its own unique skills to the table, you'll use these skills to help you solve the game's puzzle-like stages.

Now, it's worth keeping in mind that Angry Birds Journey has arrived as an early access release, and right now, it's only available in select regions. Only those who live in the US, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, and Poland will install the title. Currently, there's no word when Rovio will expand access to the rest of the globe. Still, since this release pretty much came out of nowhere, I think we'll probably see a worldwide release sooner rather than later (pending the success of this early access launch).

Angry Birds Journey is a free-to-play release, which means the game is filled with in-app purchases, and yes, much to everyone's chagrin, they range up to $99.99 per item. These purchases are primarily for packs of in-game currency, though there are also a few starter bundles that offer currency, stamina, and a few other items. This means there is a stamina system in the game, though to start this stamina is unlimited, but like all stamina systems, it will gate gameplay eventually, which is always sad to see.

So there you have it. Rovio has returned to its bread and butter slingshot-style gameplay with the early access release of Angry Birds Journey on the Google Play Store. So if you were a fan of the original, you may get a kick out of Journey, though the greedy monetization and stamina system could hold people back, and rightfully so since there's no real need to monetize such a simple game in this manner. But hey, no one said Rovio actually grew a conscience, but at least the game is free, so if you're interested, you can easily take a look.