Journey Review (PS3)
Journey is one of those games that will elicit a certain response from people. It’s beautiful, stark, slow-paced, contemplative – all of the things that combine almost solely to make those playing it put on their wank-hats and go mad with the praise: “it’s art!” they cry, “it legitimises my hobby in a way I never thought possible!” they add, straining to hold back the tears.
Normally we’d jump in and laugh right in their faces, but the simple fact of the matter is this: Journey deserves that sort of praise. It deserves the barely-controlled gushing; the effusive wall of acclaim; the overuse of the thesaurus function that is sure to come its way.
What thatgamecompany has presented us with is a simple concept – taking control of a being – an elegant thing of humanoid shape – players are sent on, well, a journey. Wordlessly they are compelled to follow the light; to head toward to mountain in the distance, never really knowing why but knowing it’s what they’re supposed to do.
It wouldn’t make much sense if that were the whole story, though, and it’s the journey (sorry) of discovery along the way that makes Journey (less sorry) such an enamouring experience.
Through the player’s travels they will encounter a barren world; a half-buried city under an endless desert. Forgotten relics dotted around, obstacles – of varying sizes and styles – to contend with and a general feel that something happened here. It’s a mystery, and it will keep you moving, keep you floating above the world with your magic scarf and keep you sand-surfing whenever you get the chance.
It’s never slow, never plodding, sometimes more exciting than you would expect, it makes you want to explore, to want to know what’s going on and it just gets in your head. But it’s quite often lonely.
Did we say ‘lonely’? Well it doesn’t have to be that way. When playing through the game we had legitimately forgotten the PS3 was hooked up and signed in, so when a fellow traveller made its presence known in our game there was a genuine pang of joy.
If you’ve read anything about Journey elsewhere you’ve likely seen talk of the dancing, floating and singing done together on encountering others – and it was no different for us. In part because it just feels the right thing to do, an expression of joy at having the loneliness crushed, if only fleetingly. Though also because (less romantically) you can’t chat and, in fact, you don’t even know who it is you’re travelling with.
These experiences serve to solidify Journey as such a unique experience. This coming together of people – pure as it is, free of names, sexes, people, places, identities – serves its function admirably. Plus even though you’re anonymous you can’t be a dick to each other, so there’s that too.
It’s a short one, and those looking to the quick-fix world of explosions and ultra-gore (also: boobs) might not feel it. But these are criticisms soon forgotten by those who spend any real time with Journey; its haunting atmosphere sure to leave a mark – just as, say, Flower did before it.
It’s like one of those cheap getaways you can pick up in the likes of The Sun – ‘three quid for a family holiday!’ – except this one is eight quid, and this one is actually worth doing (with less risk of standing on an upended hypodermic syringe in the sand). Journey comes with a hearty recommendation.