I was expecting great things out of the people over at thatgamecompany (yes, that is the name of the developer) but I had no idea just how great of a game they would produce. Journey is one of the shortest games I have ever played, but I have never been so compelled to pick the controller back up and play a game again. Journey takes the player on an adventure that is like nothing I have ever experienced in a video game.
Journey starts off with the player taking on the role of a character whom appears to be made of cloth dressed in Arabian-inspired red robes. The cloth character begins to walk in the vast desert toward the giant mountain on the hill with something glowing at the very top. thatgamecompany has crafted an amazing story that is told in a very non-traditional way. A lot of the story is told visually through amazing visual ques that make the player want to know what happened to this land and what is going to happen next.
The game play is rather simple, yet ingenious: walk toward the mountain and get there by any means necessary. Players move with the left analog stick, steer the camera with six axis or right analog stick, and jump with the X button. This game shows that doing something simple and perfecting it can be better than complex mechanics.
The game is all about going on adventure to find out what this land is all about and seeing all that there is to see in this area. Running into other players on their own adventure is where the game gets even more interesting. The funny thing is that there is no text chat, audio chat, names above people’s heads, or any way identifying him or her besides the fact that it is simply another person going through the same things you are. By helping one another the game becomes not only a story about your experience heading to the mountain, but a story about you and a stranger helping one another to reach a common goal.
Since you can’t talk to one another via chat or headset, the only way to communicate is by a chirping sound that can be made by pressing the circle button. The longer the circle button is held, the louder the sound. When another player chirps, a little white light will appear on the side of the screen they are located. It helps a lot when separated or when one person found something the other didn’t see. The chirp helps in other ways as well.
Throughout the game there are lights to collect that will expand the cloth character’s scarf. These scarves can be charges with energy, and by using this energy the cloth character can jump and fly. The scarf can be charged by finding pieces of moving cloth that is scattered about the world to charge it or a stranger can charge it for you by touching you or chirping while around you. There are hidden lights that can also make your scarf bigger so it can hold more energy. So the longer your scarf is means the more charge you can have, and the more charge the scarf has on it leads to how much longer your cloth character can jump or fly. This becomes key to getting to certain areas of the game.
When I met my first stranger we worked kind of well together at the beginning, but as our pilgrimage together grew we became better at the team work aspect. I helped him get up to a really high place to get a light he missed and he went back for me when I fell off a really high bridge. Normally I am so used to people just leaving others behind if they can’t keep up, but Journey brought out something that kept me going back to help this stranger as he did for me.
The first thing I noticed when I started up the game was the visuals. The graphics are gorgeous and every area looks like the developer spent a lot of time on every little visual detail. Every time I thought I saw the most gorgeous thing in the game, I would turn a corner and a new set piece would blow me away. They did an amazing job with these graphics, and it looks like it’s a moving piece of art work.
The sound design is spot on and is very important to the way players actually play in Journey. The music score is gorgeous and the lack of voice acting was a great decision. The player can tell what is going on still by the tone of the music and all the visual ques. The sound does a good job of driving emotions a certain way during certain scenes and areas. At one point in the game the music changed to make it the scene more sad and it seriously brought a tear to my eye.
Another aspect of Journey I would like to compliment thatgamecompany for is their camera control. The view in of the area is perfectly controlled as it turns and changes smoothly. The view of the scenery changes at all the right times to view all of the gorgeous landscape and the camera is even used as a way to let you know you are going the wrong way. The camera design is sometimes neglected in a lot of games, but thatgamecompany nailed it in this game.
Journey is a rather short game, but it’s a game that should be played multiple times. It deserves the time of anybody who owns a PlayStation 3. The graphics, sound, controls, game play, and story are perfectly crafted for what the people are trying to achieve. Do yourself a favor go play this game now, and get ready to experience something that is nothing like you have experienced in a video game before.