The ACTUAL most exciting game to have been revealed over the weekend
Prototype 2? WHATEVER. SSX Deadly Descent? TAKE A HIKE! Elder Scrolls V, Mass Effect 3 and Uncharted 3? Umm, ok you’re all pretty amazing. BUT STILL. The best trailer I saw this weekend, and one that shockingly features actual gameplay is the one above. If I’m going to go get lost in the desert I’m more excited about doing it as this little red-caped guy than as Nathan Drake.
Firstly, I love thatgamecompany, even when people sit watching me play their games with a look of mocking befuddlement plastered across their stupid faces. flOw is beatiful, simple and pure, and Flower is a brilliant reminder that games don’t need to be about explosions and violence in order to be effective. Flower imparts its narrative through graceful arcs of multicoloured petal, framed against an orange, incadescent sky. It’s the kind of game that makes you write ridiculous, pretentious sentences like that last one. My type of game, basically.
So, Journey speaks very much to me as a gamer. I’m very interested in thatgamecompany creative director Jenova Chen’s approach to game making. He’s not just creating experiences that are about skill, dexterity or graphics, he’s making games that attempt to address very complex and abstract emotions. He has a very clear understanding about how the interactivity of the medium can be used to leverage and draw such emotions from the player, and Journey looks set to do just that.
All you do in it is walk. Walk and sometimes meet up with another player. You might walk with them for a bit, then you might leave them. You might sing to them a bit. But mainly what you’re doing is walking; that distant, glowing mountain your final destination. But it’s not the destination that matters. As the name of the game suggests, it’s the journey you take to get there.
Watching the above trailer you’ll see some truly beautiful sights, dreamt up by the zen-like imagination of the creative staff at thatgamecompany, and filtered through a Spirited Away-esque Hayao Miyazaki filter. It looks a lot more fantastical than we first imagined, with strange alien landscapes pocked by beautfiful architecture that juts out of the ground, and populated by bizarre creatures that rotate and snake their way through the air. But the most striking elements of the trailer are the feelings of loneliness, isolation, awe and finally companionship that the game conveys. Like Flower before it, Journey is a title that demands the use of such uncommon nouns; nouns that only the rarest and most special of games manage to conjure up.
According to my esteemed colleage Jon Gordon, who saw Journey at Gamescom earlier this year and named it his game of the show (clearly he knows what he’s talking about) this trailer actually shows very little of how beautiful the game really is. And you know what? Good. I’m a man who doesn’t care much about spoilers. I’ll happily watch hours of gameplay before the release of a game without worrying about it a great deal – I am a games journalist after all, it’s my job. But Journey’s one game about which I would like to maintain some sense of mystery. The sense of discovery and wonderment in uncovering this strange world is inherently what makes Journey so special. If there’s one experience I don’t want to tarnish for myself in the upcoming year, that would be it.