Jamie is a freelance video game writer, you can follow all his video game related content on analogaddiction.org.
Published July 18th 2012
Journey is breathtaking.
This statement rings true throughout the entire game. For those who are not sure what Journey is, Journey is a game created by Thatgamecompany (Flower, FlOw). You play as a red hooded traveller trying to get to a mountain seen in the background at the beginning of the game. Sounds simple? Well, it is. That is not a bad thing though, so don't be put off by the simplicity. This game also allows you to connect with random PSN players and play the game alongside them. Not knowing who they are, or being able to verbally contact them is interesting to say the least.
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When it comes to plot the game is basically a journey from the desert, to the mountain containing a very ominous and beautiful glowing light. There is no dialogue throughout the entire game, there are no characters except for the one you play as and there is no story to speak of. In many games this would make for a terrible experience, because who wants a game where you do not know why you are doing what you are doing? Journey is one of the few games that you can allow this and still have a great time.
Instead of dialogue there are some of the most beautiful orchestral scores accompanying you throughout the game. One by one you will fall in love with the music, which goes hand in hand with the art direction. The art designers created a stunning world, they put in some amazing music that fits into the game perfectly and at times will put you on the edge of your seat.
You do not have any attacks; you simply have a "chirp" which sends out a wave of light that summons materials to allow you to cross paths and continue on your journey and also allows you to meditate to receive visions before each level is started. The game is one world that flows perfectly, you are never aware of the start of one level to the next, it just happens. Each level has its own set of basic puzzles. I was never stumped or sitting there trying to work out what to do next. Common sense can be used for most of them and when you think "Doing this may help", it does. At times during the game because of the fact you have no attacks to defend yourself, some scenes are really intense, relying on movement and hiding to make your way through the level. These scenes are my favourite experiences in Journey.
My favourite part about this game is the art. The game is majestic to look at. Just walking around and moving the camera to view the mountain in the distance, or the expansive world in front of you, I was amazed time after time by just how good this game looks. It's not realistic like Uncharted 3, but the vision the creators had is transcribed into this game phenomenally. I have not seen a game quite this good in a long time and this really does hit home the fact downloadable games have come a long way and should definitely be considered full experiences (even though some still say otherwise).
The problem with this game however is the lack of play time. I finished this game in barely 3 hours, a game that costs $20 Australian and to be beaten in that short amount of time is very disappointing. Sure I did want to play it again straight after and collect trophies, I wanted to keep exploring and playing with other players, to me, is cool. BUT for those who have played just to play once and put away may feel cheated.
Also the issue I had with multiplayer is, well, I can't even comment. I did not see anyone the entire time I was in the game world. I wanted to experience the multiplayer and expected it to be pretty packed in game since it has sold as many copies as it has, but nothing. Maybe no one was playing when I was, or maybe something was wrong on my end? Sadly I will have to see another time. I also had a few issues where the camera was placed in weird positions and could not be repositioned, certain times I would see through objects such as rocks and mountains, but these are all minor complaints.
Conclusion Journey is unlike any game I have played before and my first from Thatgamecompany. It is more of an experience than a game in my opinion, not taking away the fact I had a great time with it. For those looking for a game with high scores, long main story or intense multiplayer, you won't find that here and I think those interested in this game should consider that before purchasing. If you want a relaxing experience, filled with amazing art design and a musical score that will have you on the edge of your seat and do not mind the short experience, this game is right up your alley.
I enjoyed my time with Journey and will most likely play again for trophies and to explore more, which games do not usually grab me to do so. Any excuse to revisit Journey is a good one in my opinion and hopefully I can try some multiplayer soon and meet some fellow hoodie fiends.