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Game Review: A Journey All On Its Own

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Yesterday I finally was able to buckle down and purchase Journey from the PlayStation Network. Much to my surprise, the game had nothing to do with small town girls or city boys. It may, however, have been a little bit like taking a midnight train going anywhere. Here’s my review of Journey!


Release Date: March 13, 2012

Released For: PS3

System Played On: PS3

Hours Played: 2

Single Player Progress: Completed the game.

Overall Thoughts: Journey is a game that does what very few out there are willing to do. It speaks for itself. Through the use of only basic mechanics, and very limited interactivity, Thatgamecompany has created an artistic world and a game that teaches us something about what our medium can become.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the title is its subtlety. It tells you very little, and instead relies on showing you a whole lot more. The first few minutes are dedicated to showing you the buttons, and the essentials of how to use them. A controller watermark shows up with instructions to hold X, or square, or how to move the controller or sticks to rotate the camera. Even then, it relies almost entirely on pictures instead of words to convey the meaning. From there, you are on your own.

The environment itself, and the cloth creatures give clues to the world and through their movements quickly develop personalities of their own. Just playing alone in the desert environment, I started to actually feel connected to the cloth creatures. I was glad when I saw them, and felt awe as the creatures started to get more complex and interesting.

The story is conveyed through a series of short, animated cutscenes that tell their own wordless story and help explain what happened to the world, and why you are adventuring up the mountain.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable features of the game is that it is inherently both multiplayer and single player at the same time. While exploring the landscape and trying to reach the top of the mountain, my journey was interspersed with other nomads like myself. The only communication we had was a series of chirps which served their own purpose of replenishing the ability to jump and fly for another player.

It started off as just a player in the distance, but soon enough I was able to feel like I was on a real adventure with someone, connecting with them somehow as I was gliding down sandy slopes or huddling together against the wind on the snowy mountain peak.

As I pushed my way to the top of the slope at the end game, I saw my character freezing, and moving slow as the frost accumulated around the nomad’s clothes. I stopped almost at the summit and could not find my companion. Without even thinking about it even further, I climbed back down the mountain to find them and we finished the game together.It’s amazing that a game that limits contact so much can make players feel so much for their temporary companions.

There’s something to be said about exploring the environment as well. Each landscape, and each stage of the came has been designed to be simply gorgeous. There is deep artistry in the way the sun hits the sand, and even how the sun hits the snow blows about the characters and how they slide around against their will towards the end.

I didn’t even realize, but I had more than one traveling partner throughout the game. At the end screen, my companions were listed and I had to stop myself from messaging them and thanking them for the journey.

The music adds a wonderful emotion to the adventure as well, perfectly capturing the mechanics and the game’s spirit right where you are. Austin Wintory, the composer, should be applauded for his work.

The highest praise I can give to Journey is that it’s a game not designed to be played, but to be experienced. It’s not particularly challenging, nor is it particularly long. It is, on the other hand, deep and moving. It’s a title worth taking the time to enjoy and explore, but should only be done with an open mind. It’s not a game worth speed runs.

If you have a PS3, and want to try a unique title that succeeds in exactly what it wants to be, I highly recommend Journey. It’s only $15 on the PSN. Happy exploring!

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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