When I was in the desert first getting my bearings I had a stranger run across the sand and signal for me to follow him. I was new here and lost but he looked just like me so I went. Thus we not only started thatgamecompany’s new psn exclusive “Journey” we also began our own; and it was a voyage I won’t soon forget.
Like much of thatgamecompany’s work it can be hard to know what or how or why the game is. I know it seems like I review only artsy games but “Journey” is something everyone should try go experience. They go more for the emotional side of games to propel you through the storytelling. “Flower” had an interesting environmentalist story but the way it made it matter from from the beauty you brought from spreading your flowery joy. “Journey” takes something that feels like a mythic quest and puts you smack in the middle of it and doesn’t give you a princess or a carrot like that. It’s more open to interpretation through the short cut scenes and it really doesn’t matter because everything that happens along the way feels so magical.
Who you are isn’t explained exactly either. You are a cloaked person of sorts that has no arms who just begins the adventure. For controls you have two buttons that do anything; the circle button will let out a chirpy piano tone while x is a jump. These end up being the two main mechanics. Jumping isn’t something you can just always do though. Jumps are collected in the world by using your speak at certain ribbon like objects and the world. There are other ways to get them and this is where my friend comes in.
Besides just for rudimentary communication the “speak” button gives back the other player jumps. Which makes working together an added bonus. There isn’t much that you can’t do without another person but as the world changes and as new challenges come up I liked having someone come along with me. It made the jumping puzzles easier and kept me on track with where to go. Again with this being the most game like game developed by thatgamecompany there are power ups that when using the speak button near makes your scarf grow longer allowing you to accrue more jumps. This of course all makes much more sense in the world when it organically is explained to you. That’s why this worked for me things felt so organic. There wasn’t the sense of “Now its time for the stealth mission or turret sequence” things that happened felt it was the next step on my voyage to fulfill some sort of destiny. “Journey” just really nails that sense of discovery. When you work together and repair a bridge and see the world come to life it feels astonishing, when the world changes for the darker you feel the dread
More so though rather than trying to cobble together the story or worry about where or why we are going “Journey” is best enjoyed for what it is. The graphics look beautiful (the sand effects are really something) the music is fitting and at times minimal. But what was special was going through this world with someone else, learning to talk to them through non verbal means and try to make it to the end together. I finished it in about 2 hours in one sitting and I recommend anyone else do the same. Try to remember too, its not about the destination…