TOTW: There’s No Words To Describe The Game Journey
Over the past couple articles for the thatgamecompany Developer Showcase, I have genuinely praised thatgamecompany in many aspects, but their most recent game Journey leaves me pretty much speechless. Everything that the company tried to implement in their other game such as Flower and flOw lead up to this game. The beauty of the graphics, the seamlessness of the gameplay, the feeling of wonder you get when exploring and discovering everything the game has to offer on your own is all packed in this short masterpiece of a game.
Originally released for PS3, now PS4 in 2012, Journey has already won over the hearts of many reviewers, a large group of them putting the game in as one of the best of the decade. This claim is hard to refute, because although the game is short, and only may take you 2-3 hours to complete, the whole experience is one that is found in no other game.
The game, sticking with thatgamecompany’s prime qualities, has pretty much no direction, either at the start or during the game. You are humanoid-type thing, covered in a middle eastern/southeast asian cloth outfit. On your head there is a little cap covering all of your face, and under that is a long, flowing maroon cloak. A scarf is wrapped around your neck, which is actually a very important part of the game. A big part of the game is anonymity. So potentially, when you meet another person as a multiplayer option during the game, although you have no clue who that person is and have no way of finding out as all the “speaking” does is release a musical note. This part of the game is remind us that we’re all human, so we can all work with each other to a common goal no matter what gender, race, anything.
At the start of the game, you are in a desert. Stretching out as far as you can see, the desert is stunning, completely seamless with your character as you walk through the sandy void. When you walk, sand flies up around your feet just as it does in real life. For a game to be an immersive experience, when you get lost in the storyline and graphics, every element need to be believable. The sky, the sand, the walk animation, the jump animation. Everything. And Journey did exactly that.
The controls are very simple, as in many other thatgamecompany games. Just the main left, right, forward and backwards. There are only two other abilities that you can perform: jump and speak. Jump is pretty self-explanatory, and speak is really just “saying” a musical note, which can unlock certain element in the game when used at the right time.
Of course, the game has more of a point than just walking around in the admittedly super cool desert. As you walk to the top of a hill at the start of the game, you will see a big mountain in the distance, with a big beacon of light at the top. That is your goal. To get to the top of the mountain, you will go through lots of challenges and puzzles, you will find out that you can slide down sand dunes, and that you can jump incredibly high depending on how long your scarf is and if there are these odd flying cloth creatures nearby. The whole game is full of surprises, little cool abilities or places you can explore.
All the way through, Journey has the same artistic feel that has astounded many people around the globe. The style isn’t quite minimalistic, which has been very popular in video games recently, nor is it realistic, but something in between. thatgamecompany really got it right when they did the aesthetics for the game. The middle eastern feel, the sort of minimal design, and the beautiful soundtrack all mash perfectly together to make one great artistic piece. If you haven’t already heard the soundtrack, I highly recommend checking it out below.
Artistically, Journey is beautiful. The gameplay is seamless and fun. The story is captivating. Journey is a perfect example of where modern video games are headed. The diversity of how you play games will broaden, with new gameplay alternatives coming from young, inspired developer teams I might cover in the future, such as thatgamecompany. I highly rate Journey as one of the best games of the year, maybe even decade, and thatgamecompany is producing some amazing games, and I hope to play some more of their games in the future.
To go back and read all the other articles in this week’s Developer Showcase – thatgamecompany, here’s a list of all the articles and a link to them: