A Journey Through Journey
When Journey was originally released I was more than a little sceptical. My only other experience with ThatGameCompany was Flower and while I appreciated what it set out to do, it was never entertaining enough for my tastes. I was fully expecting Journey to be more of that style of game and so I didn’t rush out and buy it. Then came the accolades. All of my friends kept telling me to play, that I would love it and I shouldn’t wait. So my apathy became interest and I slowly warmed to the idea of playing the game but alas my attention wandered and I found myself busy with other games. Weeks became months and it got to the point that Journey had faded into the background and I had made peace with myself that I would never play it. That is until the PS4 version was announced. This time I wasn’t going to miss out, I was going to dive in on day one and experience what everyone had been raving about. I was going to finally be one of the cool kids again.
So that is what I did. Journey on the PS4 was released yesterday and I promptly downloaded it and today I sat down and finished it in one session. Was I impressed? Undoubtedly. Am I glad I played it? For sure. Do I think it was worth the hype? Well that is a tough one to answer but let me try. The first thing that struck me about Journey was the art direction which was nothing short of astounding. The beautifully designed world was breathtaking, rarely have I seen something so unique and stunning in the world of video games. The way my character moved through this world was also something special. Gliding on the wind, sliding down sand dunes, floating through the left overs of an ancient civilisation. It all felt perfect.
The story, while minimal, also grabbed my attention. Here I was a simple traveller trying to make my way to a distant peak and in the process discover the secrets of what appears to be a race of people that have been gone from this world for quite some time. I loved how this story was told without words and all the required information was passed through artwork and silent dream sequences. It allowed me to come to my own conclusions which I am sure a slightly different from everyone else that had played the game. The emotion of the game is not lessened by this ambiguity either, while not the tear jerker that something like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is, it was certainly capable of pulling on my withered old heart.
The multiplayer components of the game are also inspired. During my travels I encountered other players making the same trip and we banded together to make our way through the game. Without any mode of communication apart from a small flashing icon I somehow managed to “talk” to my partners in this adventure as we made our way through the stunning landscape. I encountered 8 other players on my play through and each and every one of them were helpful, something that probably can’t be said of any other multiplayer experience.
So after writing about all of these positives why am I still harbouring some reservations about the game? Well in all honesty I think it is mainly down to my tastes. I felt the game, while an amazing adventure, didn’t give me enough to do. It felt to me that some parts of the game were lacking a little bit of interaction that would have made it something even more special. Some areas left me wanting some sort of puzzle or danger to avoid, especially early in the game. As it is the game is a simple case of getting from point A to point B with some very simple instances of having to dodge trouble. I am not asking for anything drastic just something little that could have allowed me to interact with this stunning world just that little bit more.
But really this is a minor blemish on my time with this unique game. I played through the entire game in a little under 2 hours and enjoyed every second of it. I can’t see me going back to it anytime soon but a few years down the track I will more than likely find a couple of spare hours to live through this one of a kind adventure once again. Journey is a must play title that everyone should experience at least once but in my mind it is perhaps just one small step short of greatness.