Journey Review

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So, this game was released about 4 years ago (2012) and I finally played it. I haven’t had much time or money to devote to video games in the last while. It just so happens that I have finished my graduate degree work and that there recently was a sale on PSN to get the game for about $5. I finished it on my PS3 in two sittings and I must say that it was a delightful game in many ways. The game has been out for awhile, but just in case you haven’t played it: Mild Spoilers Ahead.

As an aspiring game designer, I took a few notes throughout the game so I could remember what it was all about without having to play it again:

-the control tutorial was soft and smooth. Very simple and intuitive.

-the aesthetic of the game struck me from the beginning as minimalistic, and gave me a sense of a world much larger than myself.

-Careful placement of objects and light made it easy to know where I was going

-I only ran into two other people throughout the game. Was enjoyable, but a little rushed to keep up with the first player. The second time was right at the end of the game. When I felt the most alone, someone came into view and passed out right beside me in the snow.

-the flying mechanic and how it worked with the length of the scarf and symbols took awhile to understand, even if I didn’t need to understand it

-the sliding in the sand part during the sunset was gorgeous and almost therapeutically enjoyable

-when things got dark I was a bit disappointed losing my blissful joy of moving around in a  bright beautiful game world, and when the monsters were introduced the game definitely shifted, the journey took on more tension, but also more meaning.

-through the snow area the game made me feel like I was on a truly arduous and important kind of pilgrimage. Making me struggle against the wind and the cold created an amazing desire to fight within me

-the music throughout the game was absolutely perfect, creating an extremely immersive atmosphere

-the end was poetic and left me wanting

-no dialogue!

This game is something different for me and I loved it. I didn’t have to be intensely focused. I could mainly just use a couple buttons to get through the game. I didn’t feel hard play wise. I didn’t have to snipe something from across a map, or perfect my sword-fighting skills. It was relieving to play a game that was both beautiful and “easy”. The ease of play in this sense allowed me to fully appreciate the aesthetic quality of it all and didn’t detract from the game. When the monsters were introduced I was suddenly struck, worried that this new ‘ease’ experience would end, but the monsters were only a temporary jolt. Perhaps they were put there as reminder that this could have been a tense game, but then it placed me back into the joy of floating, flying, and sliding which I then all the more appreciated.

I didn’t notice this until now, but perhaps I am a bit tired of fighting in games. It was nice not to have to fight. A couple weeks ago, I beat Dark Souls 3 (perhaps I’ve had more time on my hands than I let on) and it had amazing graphics and is a beautiful game, but Journey is something else. I got to take in the beauty and just wander through the game and explore. It was peaceful and relaxing and, dare I say, it has given me a new appreciation of video games.

I highly recommend it.

I bought Flower as well during the sale, but I’m not sure when I will get around to it. If it is as unique and interesting as this Journey was, then I’m sure it will be a treat.

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2 thoughts on “Journey Review

  1. So, I just came across an article on Gamasutra (The art of balancing traditional gameplay with powerful immersion in VR, http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DanHurd/20160526/273538/The_art_of_balancing_traditional_gameplay_with_powerful_immersion_in_VR.php) by a fellow Dan Hurd and it seems that their dilemma with their VR game was quite close to what Thatgamecompany solved with Journey . At least for me. Their problem is that players were either playing, or taking in the beauty of their world. But not usually both. I don’t think this is unique to VR, but it might be more pronounced when you are trying to craft an particularly immersive VR experience. Not that I’ve ever used Oculus Rift or anything.

    Like

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