Journey Review (ThatGameCompany)
System: PS3 Release Date: March, 13, 2012
ESRB: E for Everyone
“A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?”
Journey, an Indie title by ThatGameCompany, is a multiplayer driven ‘experience’ through a vast desert landscape toward a mysterious mountain top in the distance. Without a single spoken word you will travel together toward a final conclusion that might just change the way you think about ‘art’ in videogames.
Journey takes a simple idea and expands on it with beautiful music, amazing graphics, and an ingenious multiplayer that transcends race and language barriers. You play a red cloaked figure as they wake up in a vast desert, distantly a mountain top glows and you know, that is your destination. The game mechanics are simple and easy to grasp almost immediately, you have a scarf that acts as both your life and a measure of how much ‘power’ you currently have in the form of glowing symbols. What do these symbols do? They allow you to float/fly. The last mechanic the game contains is the ability to ‘chirp’ activating and communicating with anyone you find on your journey toward the top of the mountain.
Alone, Journey provides a beautiful trip through impossibly gorgeous vista’s that would look perfect in any art gallery. Yet traveling alone in journey much like real life feels empty and when you find your first traveler (another player playing the game at the same time somewhere else) it is an exciting moment filled with elation that you are now, no longer alone. Discovering a proper means of communication and working together to figure out the game’s basic puzzles is fantastic and often a connection with this faceless person grows over the course of the short 2 hour game.
To properly express the emotions you experience through journey would take forever and may ruin some fantastic surprises, but I can say that I have never found myself so involved with a complete stranger as much as I was playing journey. Experiencing the many varied locations (it is not all just desert!) with a friend is both enjoyable and almost therapeutic, the music is calming and light accenting well with moments when your surfing through a sunken city or floating above the dunes, there are moments of heart pounding tension as you navigate dark tunnels where giant stone serpents dwell anxious to tear you or your friend to pieces. One of the many things Journey does really well is to bring forth emotions that not many, if any games have for me since “shadow of the colossus”
Now enough of my cryptic eluding, while journey remains a 2 hour ‘experience’ it is not to be considered a game without gameplay, the area’s you explore are vast and are full of hidden collectables and murals that explain more about the game’s world and story. Much like a good movie the pace and emotional adventure will have you coming back again and again to see how the journey differs with another player or to find things you missed before. I have gone on my own journey around five times now and that adds up to about ten hours of game, about average for a ‘action’ title these days so if the 15$ price tag looks like it’s too much know that you’re going to get your money’s worth and then some to experience a truly beautiful game.
For those on the fence, get this game its beautiful, its emotionally engaging, and its probably the best indie title of 2012, go on a journey today, you won’t be disappointed.
[ + ] Story: subtle in it’s telling the emotional attachment to the characters and the final moments of this game make the story fantastic, even if there isn’t a single spoken/written word.
[ + ] Graphics: probely the best looking game I’ve ever seen, and easily the top contender for the ‘games are Art’ argument
[ + ] Gameplay: Simple but satisfying, you will twirl, float, and surf your way to the end of this game without a single hiccup, the puzzles are simple yet distracting enough to not feel to boring, and the chirping mechanic is great.
[ + ] Replayablity: everytime you take the journey your character’s cloak gets a big more decoration stopping at playthrough 4, and then if you manage to find all the symbols you are rewarded with a white cloak. Add this to the changing experience every time you play with someone knew and it adds up. Roughly 10 hrs (including playthroughs)
[ + ] Opinion: an amazing game that proves that art belongs in the interactive medium, with multiplayer that transcends barriers, this is a game everyone with a ps3 should play
I rate Journey 5/5 Kupo!