Game Review: Journey
It’s only been in recent years that the argument of whether or not games can be considered as art has really come to the forefront. And while I always see games first as foremost as just that, games, Thatgamecompany’s newest release Journey may just make the case for games as art. Does that necessarily mean the game is fun? You bet ya!
Journey is a simple yet fun and engaging game. It opts for a minimalist style in all aspects which makes it stand out amongst the ton of other PSN games out there. The story is extremely simple to the point where I’m reminded of old school games where a very simple plot was all that was needed to get the player started and keep going through out an entire game. You play as a robed figure given no instructions or back story. All you’re shown is a mountain in the distance and it’s pretty obvious that you have to make the trek to it. At the end of each section of the journey you’re given a short cutscene which gives some back story as to what happened in the land that you’re traversing. There’s no dialogue whatsoever thought the cutscenes do a well enough job of telling a narrative so you know what’s going on.
But the story isn’t why you should play this game. In fact it didn’t even need to be there. It’s the journey itself that pulls you in. You start off in a desert with the game giving you a general direction to go. Your only actions are moving around, jumping, and making noises. Throughout the environments you’ll find some symbols that when collected create an extension to the characters robe. This allows you to jump or, depending on how long it is, glide for a certain amount of time. The symbols are easy enough to find and not placed in annoying places you wouldn’t think to look allowing the player to push forward through the game without spending hours searching for them. Throughout your journey you’ll have to contend with some environmental puzzles in order to progress forward. These are simple enough to solve and are a nice break from just walking around. Plus they allow you to enjoy the gorgeous environment. My only issue is I wish there had been more of these puzzles, especially with the $15 price tag. I should also mention that this game is very short. Expect to play through it in no more than 2 hours. There are no enemies in the game with the exception of a few that show up later in the game to give the player a sense of tension though what they are I’ll leave that as a surprise.
What sets this game apart is that you won’t have to complete this journey alone. Throughout the game random players online will join you in your quest. You won’t see their username nor can you voice chat with them. The only way you can communicate is through the noises that the character can make. It’s up to you to figure out how to work together or not work together at all. I thought by far that was one of the best features of this game. It was the first online game where I felt I really had to work together with someone to get through the journey. You don’t need someone to help, but it really makes the journey that much more fun especially if you have a nice size group with you.
I can’t express enough how beautiful this game is. The art style is simple; the environments full of old, collapsed structures that really make you feel you’ve found a lost civilization. And if you thought the Uncharted series used sand and snow really well then you haven’t seen anything yet. The environment in a way is a character in and of itself. The colors fit the design really well and the music fits the game like a glove. It all comes together really well to evoke the right emotions out of the players.
The game is a gem. The game looks gorgeous, the animations are smooth, the environments are well designed, and the music is perfect. Again my only complaint is that I wish the game had been longer and featured more puzzles, especially since you’re being asked to shell out $15 for it, but in the end it is a sound investment and you will not be disappointed. I mean when I have I ever steered you wrong?
Until next time, El Lobo Loco here signing off.