Quick Daily Review #7: Journey [Video Game]
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: thatgamecompany, Sony Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Journey was released on March 13, 2012 as a PSN exclusive and was met with very high review scores; most people seem to love it. So it was no surprise when the game was released in retail stores along with other thatgamecompany games “Flower” and “Flow” as “the Journey Collector’s Edition.” The game is so well liked that it was the “Game of the Year” for many outlets/people; even Amazon named it the 2012 Game of the Year (well the Collector’s Edition, but same thing).
It’s a game that I had wanted to play since its release, but never got around to purchasing it. I did play the demo back when it first released and enjoyed it, but not enough to pay full price. I then intended to pick up the Collector’s Edition, but haven’t picked it up and won’t any longer (no need for it; I already owned Flow and now own Journey, so it’d be cheaper to just purchase Flower off of PSN at some point).
Journey is an interesting and unique game. Thatgamecompany has set themselves up as sort of being the art-games studio when it comes to unique PSN games. Journey definitely makes a strong case for “games as art,” but at the end of the game I’m glad I bought this on sale for a tad over $7 and didn’t spend the full $14.99 asking price. To me, the game just isn’t worth that price.
I can see why people like it, heck I like it. I can see why some people love it and consider one of 2012’s greatest releases, but while I can understand where those people are coming from I certainly can’t go that for with my appreciation for the game. For starters, the game is only about an hour and a half to two hours; it isn’t long at all. And while you can interpret things as you want, there really is no story here either. Journey IS a journey, sure, but that’s about all it is. Is it a journey worth spending the two hours on? Yes, if you can get it on sale, but I don’t personally think it is at $15.
After completing the game and not really “feeling” anything, I looked up what other people thought of the game. I came across this in depth analysis of the game from Justin at Brutal Gamer called “Journey Is The Story Of Our Lives.” It’s a great article, wonderfully written, and I’m glad this guy had this kind of experience with the game. I didn’t though, and to me that article is, while a great read and with no disrespect, an elegant and elaborate piece of BS.
Journey is a game about a creature wrapped in cloth with a magical scarf that can provide the ability to fly temporarily so long as the glyphs on the back of the scarf are lit up. You can recharge your scarf by touching other pieces of fabric and fabric creatures, or by touching another player in co-op. Your scarf can even grow by touching a glowing ancient glyph. You’ll use your abilities to open paths and follow the linear journey to its conclusion; from its beginning in a vast desert to the end at the peak of a mountain. And then, after the credits roll, you’ll be asked to start the journey all over again.
The gameplay itself is very good but quite simple (which isn’t a bad thing). The controls are easy, and for that matter the game itself is really super easy and there are only a couple of times in the game where you’ll feel a sense of danger. Likewise, the score for the game is excellent. Really, the music for this game is one of the best parts of playing it. It’s just a beautiful and elegant score that fits the game perfectly.
The games multiplayer is also wonderful, and probably one of the best multiplayer experiences out there. It’s co-op with a random person. You don’t know anything about the person who you’re playing the game with and you have no way to communicate with them (voice or text wise). All you have is the ability to press the circle button and emit a noise and a glyph symbol. The other player will know you’re trying to get their attention, but that’s about all you can do. It’s because of this though that the multiplayer is such a good experience. It’s not about winning or having the high score; heck the other player isn’t even needed. You can choose to ignore the person, but odds are you’ll embrace them and want to stick with them. It can be a lonely journey, and when you see another person in the game, the two of you are drawn together.
Again, you have no way of knowing who you’re playing with at the time, but once the game has been completed you’ll be greeted with a screen listing the players who you encountered during that journey. It’s a really good multiplayer experience; and where games like COD can bring out the worst in people, this game shows that people can be helpful and thoughtful. And you have to like a game that can accomplish that.
Journey is a great experience, and while I can’t say “you must play this game,” I can say that is easy to recommend. Note that you’re getting a short game and the story is what you make of it (some people have a profound emotional experience, others like me don’t feel anything or really see the point), but it is a creative and unique game that plays well and looks great. The last leg of the journey in particular is extremely beautiful.