Journey is a multiplayer downloadable game developed by thatgamecompany for the PS3 and was released back in April. This is the third instalment by thatgamecompany to release on the PSN (Flow and Flower being the other two). To start with I have to make a little confession. This game, as with most arty games, is very difficult to review because it is hard to explain the experience you get from this game.
This game impresses you from the get go. As soon as I pressed start I knew this wasn’t going to be any ordinary game. The first thing I noticed was the rich visuals that were displayed on my TV. The golden sand looked gorgeous and the lighting stunned me. You then get introduced to your character, a robed figure sitting in the sand looking into the distance. You proceed of in that direction. The sand feels deep and the environment feels vast even though you are essentially going from A to B. The basic premise to this game is you are on a Journey to a Mountain in the distance. The mountain stays with you and is a constant reminder of your “objective”. No one tells you that is what you are doing you just somehow know and that’s a really testament to thatgamecompany’s design skills.
What the game does amazing at is redefining how a multiplayer game can be played. You will eventually meet an unknown player (their ID is kept secret from you) and the only way to communicate is through one button which emits a tone (which is also used to give life to pieces of cloth). This tone can be manipulated with its volume and length by how long you press the button. This becomes a key tool as you cannot speak to your partner and the only way to communicate is through tones and jumping. It’s odd but you end up building a language with your partner as you share the experience with them.
The sections have puzzles which you must solve to proceed. The puzzles are nothing too challenging (which is a shame) but they work well in helping you build a common language with your partner. Enemies start popping up towards the end of the game which adds that extra bit of challenge. I am not a big fan of quest games that require other online players to complete but this game in an exception. At one point my partner disappeared and I honestly felt uncomfortable being and I was hoping my partner would return. I did continue my quest with (I can only assume) another player which seamlessly dropped into my journey.
Musically this game is incredible with it perfectly infusing with what you can see and play. The music not only adds a mysterious, relaxing feel but also adds a sense of drama. This game shows music is vitally important to video games and sometimes it is even more important than spoken dialogue. Austin Wintory has indeed done a fantastic job and should be recognised for his work. I am glad to hear that he has been given a Grammy nomination for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.
There is a story to this game which is explained through cut scenes (again no dialogue) between each segment but it is really about what you have experienced playing this game. The experience is a bit short (it’s around two to three hours long depending on your exploration) which is a shame but you don’t feel that you have been charged too much for what you experience. Each time you play the game the experience is different which adds a vast amount of replay value. The best way to describe this game is it’s a journey that you shouldn’t miss out on. I didn’t expect thatgamecompany to top flower but they have. I absolutely recommend that you experience this journey .