A beautiful Journey

March 16, 2012 by Tim

When I fired up Journey earlier this week, my wife exclaimed “You’re a Jawa!”

And then I could not unsee it.

In all seriousness though, Journey is so absolutely gorgeous it’s hard to put the entire experience into words. It’s a PS3 exclusive, so if you own a PS3 this is a game you need to check out. It’s developed by thatgamecompany; you may have seen or played their previous games, Flow and Flower.

Like their previous titles, the descriptor “video game” does Journey no justice whatsoever. Journey is an experience. The visuals are simple, and elegant. There’s no UI… the most you get is a very simple and short tutorial at the beginning introducing you to the buttons.

You trapse around the desert platforming and exploring, moving from area to area. Your scarf acts as your only “meter”, it’s length and glowiness telling you all you need to know about your ability to jump/float. Inbetween areas you’re treated to a brief 2D animated cutscene, a la wall paintings, that tell you a story. I’m not going to lie, I barely have a clue what they’re trying to say. But that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment at all.

As you play, if you’re connected to the PSN, Journey will randomly connect you with another player. In a very Demon’s Souls fashion, you cannot communicate with this person. In fact, you don’t even know what their PSN tag is. The game doesn’t tell you when they join. Instead, you just come across them naturally… two individuals playing their own game, but connected. You can see eachother, and help eachother progress through the world, or you can ignore eachother completely if you wish.

Music is not something I usually focus on in games. I’d notice it if it weren’t there, but most of the time it’s so ambient I just don’t even think about it. Journey’s score has to mentioned though. It is so incredibly moving and so absolutely entwined with the world and the visuals, you cannot help but notice how well it fits, and how much it adds to your experience.

I haven’t finished it yet, but I know that Journey is a short game. For your $15, you’re not going to get dozens of hours of gameplay. There’s no multiplayer deathmatch. But what you will get for your $15 is a game experience you will not likely forget. I try not to say “you must buy this game” too often, but I really think you won’t regret it if you check this title out.

I don’t want to say too much about it, because it really does need to be experienced for oneself, but I did feel this launch trailer does a great job of showing off the tone, visuals and audio of the game.

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