Journey (PS3)

journey

If you haven’t tried this game yet, that’s fine, but do so eventually. Don’t even bother with the demo; just buy it. In the event you haven’t played thatgamecompany’s other title, Flower, I highly recommend you get that out of the way first. All my friends who played Journey remarked on how enjoyable it was. So, I set out to see what’s so great about a game I heard is only two hours long and costs $15.

Amount Played: 2 hours; one full play-through

Impressions

The game is pretty linear, but the pacing is just right so you don’t get bored. Unfortunately, there isn’t much extra space to explore in, and when you find ruins off to the side, they are often pointless to visit. There are a couple secrets to discover though, if you care to invest the extra time in your meditation. I recommend waiting for a second play-through to hunt these down.

The game feels good to play, and there are a couple things you do while playing. You can fly for short periods of time, and you can surf down sand dunes. The platforming aspects are executed well; I quickly learned timing for jumps of various distances and was always able to stick my landing. You can also tap or hold the Circle button to speak in musical tones, which is used to activate certain things in the game. I would explain more, but I’d rather not spoil it for you.

I approached Journey as a game to play while meditating (not in the traditional sense, just with a relaxed and open mind). Even though I was nearly entranced by the smooth movements and vast, soothing atmosphere, there was a point in the game where I literally thought “I’m on a journey”. I gasped, pleasant to see the game was appropriately titled. Then I realized how inconsequential that was because the monomyth seems like an easy out for a game that purportedly alters sentiments and evokes introspection. While playing I even drew several parallels with a game I worked on in school, not just in story but gameplay as well. If there is a deeper meaning, it’s lost on me, just like Braid‘s infamous atomic bomb.

I’m flabbergasted that IGN and Gamespot selected Journey for Game of the Year 2012. I won’t argue whether or not it’s a game; there are many more obscure titles that fit that classification, and it’s still interactive entertainment. But, I just don’t see what’s so special about the reasons given for making this GOTY. Most of the game’s elements aren’t new or unique. A lot of the emotional underpinning existed in Flower before it, and frankly that game made me reflect more. The only thing Journey adds is multiplayer, but you can’t even meet up with a real friend for some meaningful co-op.

Pros

  • It’s like Flower, with more visual flair.
  • The orchestral music is fantastic and really sets the mood.
  • There are no puzzles, just things to explore.
  • The game is mercifully short; multiple playthroughs are better than one longer one.

Cons

  • Cloth simulation could be better for how smooth everything else is.
  • Some visual effects are a little harsh.
  • Not the best money to time conversion rate.

Video

I made an extended trailer from some gameplay found in other YouTube videos.

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