It’s Not About the Destination, It’s About the Journey
Monday, April 23, 2012 Leave a comment
Few games come by and leave such a lasting and powerful impression on me and even less often can I say a game moved me. I most certainly wouldn’t expect a game completely devoid of narrative, dialogue, and any co-op communication like ThatGameCompany’s newest downloadable epic, Journey, would be the one do it.
Maybe I’m a sucker for weird, artsy, abstract games (see my review for Limbo) but Journey really floored the little expectations I had for it. Like many others, I had heard the buzz that the game generated when it first came out exclusively for Playstation Plus subscribers more than a month ago. I was ready to buy the game then and there, but because of the game’s exclusivity, I wasn’t able to and almost completely forgot about it. I mean, is there still anyone that actually pays for that service? Anyway, the game was publicly released a few weeks after that, and I finally got the chance to check it out.
Journey starts you off as a nameless, red-cloaked wanderer in the middle of the desert. The game provides you with virtually no instruction whatsoever, but there’s a colossal mountain in the background shining a pillar of light into the sky, so you figure you should probably head toward it. You would be right to do so. Without giving much else away, the entire point of Journey is to get your character to that top of a lumbering summit way in the background of the screen by any means necessary. The terrain that you cover will be both serene and perilous as well as tranquil and frightening. That’s all I’m going to tell you about the game’s concept. Trust me when I say that the less you know about Journey walking into it, the more you might enjoy it.
What I will tell you is that Journey’s graphics are simply stunning. The environments in the game really are presented front and center, with massive and diverse landscapes zooming past you with incredible detail. The lighting and texture effects are some of the best I’ve seen, and the overall package of visuals rival those seen in the Uncharted series. That’s saying something. Add in the fact that this is a bite-sized download that’s only available on the PSN Store and that claim becomes even more impressive.
The last thing I’ll tell you about Journey (I swear) is how seamless and incredible the game’s online co-op is. As long as your Playstation 3 is hooked up to the internet, you can expect to play the game through in a co-op manner. See, the game never asks you if you want to play with anyone else in the first place, and it doesn’t even let you choose who you play with. Instead, somewhere in the first couple of levels, you’ll see another creature that looks just like you walking through the levels as aimlessly as you are. The game provides you with no chat or hotkey communications or even any emoticon-like services to try and communicate anything with any level of sophistication to it. The only thing you have to communicate is a chiming sound that you emit when you push the circle button, and it totally works. Surprisingly, this little chime is all you’ll really need to signal to your companion. You’ll alert each other of danger, call your partner over to let them when you’ve found a secret, and check to make sure they’re not alright and not letting the stresses of the voyage get to them. What’s even more surprising is how well connected I felt with my companion at the end of the game. So well connected, in fact, we both sent each other messages over PSN at the same time talking about how great it was partnering up. The game lets you know who you’re playing with after the credits roll, allowing you to know who your companion was.
Speaking of the credits rolling, you’ll see them roll pretty quick. Journey is only about 2 hours long. Don’t let that deter you though, the game honestly provided me with one of the most refreshing, original, and profound experiences that I’ve had gaming in recent memory. The game is listed for $14.99 on the Playstation Store, which might seem a little over-priced with the game’s short runtime, but you won’t mind when it’s all said and done, trust me. This is one of those games that once you play it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT miss out on this game. You won’t put it down until it’s over, I assure you (though that’s really not that hard to do in this case).