PUBLISHER: Sony Computer Entertainment America
PLATFORM: PlayStation 3
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2012
One word comes to mind after checking out Journey, the latest game from the independent developers at thatgamecompany; art.
Advocates for games as art have never had a better example than the experience provided to players in Journey. Journey is a spectacle of incredibly beautiful visuals accompanied by an equally as wonderful musical score.
Journey has you take on the role of a nameless and largely faceless (besides two glowing eyes) character that is at the same time simple and ornate. An example of this is the two stick-figure- like legs protruding from the bottom of a fairly detailed robe. The HUD is free of any type of feedback monitors such as the standard health, ammo or mini-map which works perfectly for the type of immersive experience the developers were going for.
With no clearly laid out motive for the player, or background story to the character, the only clue the player has is to head toward the large mountain far off in the horizon of the desert. The game is relatively short (roughly two-hours of game time) which some may view as a negative. However, this would only be true if Journey were a game that didn’t invite the player to replay the game several times over. This is definitely not a game that was meant to be played only once.
The game mechanics are fairly simple, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the game fails to be fun. The player has the ability to move, jump and emit a musical note-pulse (the intensity of which is determined by how long you hold down the button). Some players may feel like the mechanics are too simple, but the game does such a good job of making you almost forget that you even have a controller in hand. Overcomplicating the controls would be a detriment to the design and flow of the game’s experience.
Journey also supports multiplayer, which is not quite the traditional match-making process that gamers have come to expect. At some point throughout the Journey you may be randomly joined by another mysteriously hooded figure that accompanies you on the way to the looming mountain in the distance. The way Journey does this is so subtle, you may turn around and suddenly someone will be with you. There is no functional need for the companion, other than when close to each other you refill the energy of each other’s scarves (which allows the player to jump higher and longer through the environment).
Along the way you will encounter pieces of cloth which seem to have a life of their own. They also serve various purposes such as aiding the player in reaching certain out-of-reach areas or filling the scarf’s energy meter.
Upon completing the game, Journey gives off the sense of a game that has been meticulously crafted and designed. This is shown in such a way that every scene in the game is perfectly accompanied by appropriate music that matches the intensity, danger or excitement of the visual experience that the player is having. The amount of time dedicated to the overall design is demonstrated by the game’s ability to evoke all the right emotions, at just the right time.