So last night I totally had my mind blown!!!
7:35pm – and my PS3 has had the pre-load screen for Journey sitting idle for at least 5 minutes. The theme loops and I stare at the screenshot used waiting until I am totally ready to embark on my Journey.
7:38pm – Still no movement, at this stage you might be wondering what is happening. Well my wife is in the lounge room too at this point. Sorting out some bills and making sure they are paid, on the phone talking to some call centre somewhere. For starters thats not the kind of environment that the gorgeous strings of the Journey theme song call for and secondly my wife doesnt want me starting the game without her full attention.
7:42pm – Finally it is time to take my first step.
First and formost the graphics are simply gorgeous, I will get that out of the way now because quite frankly its easy enough to see just by watching videos and looking at screens. It made me think about so many different titles past and present “Another World” in some sections with the beauty and detail of “Uncharted 3” even “Swords and Scorcery” the iOS title to some extent. All in all with a only a handful of environmental sources to draw upon the colour pallet and the way it blends with the atmosphere and music gave me tingles. For a world that is primarily a seemingly endless desert it feels more alive then some urban sandbox titles feel like (no pun intended).
Naturally I wont delve into the story of the game and spoil anything but I think the true beauty of what thatgamecompany have done here is that the mystery and discovery is what the story is all about and its amazing to discover it all as you go. The pacing is sublime and if your lucky enough to meet a companion on your travel then your in for a real treat. The game contains no dialogue and it needs it not to get everything it needs across. If you want me to break it down basically there is a mountain with a light shooting out of the centre of it way off in the distance, you have to make your way there.
The gameplay is simple move your character with the right stick, move the camera with the left. “0” is used for a basic form of communicating which is used mainly to open doors and reveal glyphs around the world. But this simple chirping is also very useful during the games co-op component. Finally “x” will make you fly, but you can only fly when you have your scarf like garmet charged. The time you can spend in the air is dictated by the length of your scarf, which is extended by picking up little golden glyphs that can be found around the world. This all helps tranversing the world which in essense is the essense of Journey.
8:02pm – Wandering alone in the desert, one part looking for what to do and 2 parts marveling at the beauty surrounding me. Finally I see something to head towards, an old looking building that is falling apart and covered in sand, surely there must be something there because there certainly isnt anything else in anyother direction. I reach the old ruins and find nothing of worth, but then realise another cloaked character walking over another sand dune and heading for the same location I am at. The other cloaked character greets me with a strange chirp like sound, I reply… we never leave eachothers side for the rest of the Journey.
Listening to thatgamecompany discuss what they wanted to do with Journey and a large part of it was trying to evoke emotions from the player. This is achieved in a bevy of ways, music and imagery play a large role but never before have I had a game give it to me in the form of a real life working partnership. During your Journey you will encounter other characters just like you, these are REAL players and not NPC’s. They too are embarking on the same Journey as you are and you can choose to carry out your walk with them or you can both go your own way.
8:34pm – By this time my wife (granted she is quite ill) decides to call it a night, she asks if I am coming to bed. How can I? I couldnt possibly leave my companion on his own now, not after what we had been through, not when it seemed like we were so close to that mountain…
I would highly suggest to anybody who hasnt played it yet to join travel with a partner, not because you cant complete the journey without one but because there is something wonderful and touching about doing so with somebody else. Even though in the real world this person is a total stranger to you in the game and on your journey they become somebody that you dont want to lose. Working together without dialogue or even a name adds weight to the bond and when your new found friend starts chirping at you to get your attention for something useful it feels like there is a genuine care and friendship. Its hard to explain and is best discovered by actually playing the game. And thats a recommendation coming from a gamer who usually dislikes any multiplayer.
8:57 pm – I have completed my Journey, but this one is going to stay with me for a long long time to come. it took only just over an hour to complete but I had felt things that no other game had made me feel. More like watching a really beautifully shot foreign film that really had a powerful narrative. There was tention, danger, a few laughs and some real almost tear envoking moments. But overall it was the time after during the credits and the day after upon waking that makes me know that this game had an effect on me. I started the game worried that I wouldnt “get it” but now I plan on returning to see if I can “get it some more”, who knows maybe you will complete your first Journey with me and you will never really know it.