Journey is an indie video game developed by Thatgamecompany and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3; it was released on March 13, 2012, via the PlayStation Network. A retail “Collector’s Edition”, including Journey, Thatgamecompany’s two previous titles, and additional media, was released on August 28, 2012. Journey was released digitally for the PlayStation 4 on July 21, 2015 and a physical edition was released on October 2, 2015. Journey was the free game for PS+ members for the month of September giving many a chance to finally try this captivating game for the first time. It’s a simple puzzle game with breathtaking visuals and an impactful musical assortment. Although the experience is only a few hours, the memory lasts much longer.
In Journey, the player controls a robed figure in an extensive desert while we travel towards a mountain in the far off distance. Journey’s coop method is quite unique. Other players on the same journey can be discovered, and they can meet and help each other out while they explore together, but they cannot communicate via speech or text nor can they see each other’s names. Everyone is just a nameless vagabond traveling together in our very brief time together. The only form of communication between players is a musical chime.
This musical chime also transforms lifeless pieces of cloth that are found throughout the levels into vibrant red, affecting the game world and allowing the player to progress through the levels. Our robed character wears a scarf that eventually grows in length and serves as our life. Our character will float through the air when we get near floating pieces of cloth and solve puzzles with these chimes.
When one plays this game you get the sense of smallness, wonder, and how time affects everything around us. It gives one the impression of insignificance vs omnipotence. From the vast distance of your journey to the singular trek that one must undergo, this game makes you feel like an ant. There are towering monuments from deep depths to heavenly heights, everything around you allows you to see just how small we are in the grand scheme of things. The enemies are towering giants and the alcoves we hide in are spacey enough for two. In conjunction, as we play we notice the limits of our being and when we take damage we lose pieces of our scarf.
Playing a Feeling
The game’s music attempts to connect players as they meet and forge a sense of closeness that is so transient, here one second and gone the next. The music in the game evokes numerous different emotions while one is playing, either solo or in tandem. In addition, the music responds to the player’s actions whilst supplementing our character’s emotional journey throughout the game.
While the game’s art style can be perceived as based on several different cultures, it also is without overly implied cultural influences to give it a widespread and encompassing feel. The story is told by cut-scenes with music providing an additional depth to it invoking a multitude of emotions like sadness, wonder, or splendor as you progress through the game. The visuals are simple enough with a never ending desert brown to a white powder blanket of fresh snow; making you the only thing with a hard contrast. You will trek through a variety of environments until you reach your final destination. Once you are there, keep in mind insignificance, omnipotence, and the relationship the two have. Nonetheless, Journey should strike something deep within us while we ponder the fragility of time.
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