329th played so far

JourneyGenre: Action
Platform: Playstation 3
Year of Release: 2012
Developer: thatgamecompany
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Journey is one of those games where everything seemed to have come together. We played Flower  some time ago, which was a great game with admirable effect. Journey had the same developers and was getting rave reviews from the moment it was released. We got it not long after and started playing – although we got back to it only now. Another reason to be glad that the book had a bit of an ‘update’.

Our Thoughts

Journey is an experience. Its gameplay isn’t the most complex – you can walk, jump and call out (sing?). Your goal is to get through a level, possibly finding secrets if you can, but mostly traveling. There are a few puzzles and action elements, but it mostly comes down to getting to the right places and occasionally making some tricky jumps.

But that’s not the point. It’s not meant to be a difficult game. It’s about the journey. It’s about the experience. And that’s where it delivers, as you walk through these large areas, mostly abandoned ruins, with weird carpets that seem to lengthen your jumps around the area.

The storytelling that comes from this is as engaging. The only words that are used are those in the menus, for purely technical thing. Everything else is done through sound and visuals – not just that, most are painted murals explaining parts of the areas you walked through and some you will move through soon. It gives the indication of a world like the one we live in, with trains and elevators, big modern areas. It’s both beautiful and enticing.

The part of the game that really makes it an experience you won’t – can’t – forget is what the multiplayer brings to it. As long as you are online (and you really want to be here), you get randomly matched with another player. You explore the world together, joining each other’s journey. You can help each other find secrets and encourage them to keep going. Because of the limited options that are available to you – you can jump and call, with the calling helping the other person’s jumps – you can’t really lose here. You can only help the other person, and if you stray too far from each other you meet another traveler in the same area (with a gradual awareness as you realise someone else is interacting with the world). It becomes such a good feeling to help each other that it seems like there is a large group of veteran players leading newer players around the world, showing them the secrets of the world, the collectables and the easter eggs.

And somehow the shared journey matters. You start caring about the other person, waiting for them and making sure you can travel together. There’s an attachment that forms, even if the only way to communicate is by ‘singing’. And when you get through the final levels together, where the environment is against you and your progress is slowest as you climb the mountain, the feeling of triumph is immense. It’s not a large game, and it might be difficult to fail, but you’ve made it and you feel like you really have made a long journey. And yes, it is the journey that matters.

Final Thoughts

Having covered Journey we are left with one final game from the people at thatgamecompany; flOw. Seeing how Journey and Flower pack one hell of an emotional punch I am glad to have played flOw before to know that it is very different from the two that came afterwards.

We have touched on the game vs. art every now and then, especially when we completed our playthrough of Flower. This is a debate that started up again last year because of both Beyond: Two Souls and The Last Of Us being so cinematic in scope. Maybe one day the gaming world will be fully recognised with their own widely known awards in the vein of the Grammys, Emmys and Oscars. For now let’s be content with Journey snagging the first nomination for a video game at the Grammys.

  1. […] rages on and titles such as The Path and Heavy Rain get used as examples the gap being bridged Journey remains, in my opinion, the best argument of just how video games and art meet.  Whilst many games […]