Journey, a game that I’ve followed since its release but only now had the opportunity to experience. I find it hard to believe that it came out in 2012. That makes it 5 years old in 2017. I’ve always been aware of the positive reaction surrounding the game. Luckily, I’ve somehow managed to only witness brief gameplay clips. Attempting to not spoil too much for myself. However, what I had seen of it I just knew it would be something that I would enjoy. Still, there was always the faint possibility that I had raised my expectations far too high.
In Journey, the player takes the role of a robed figure in a desert. After an introductory sequence, the player is shown the robed figure sitting in the sand, with a large mountain in the distance. The path towards this mountain, the ultimate destination of the game, is subdivided into several sections travelled through linearly.
The player can jump with one button, or emit a wordless shout or musical note with another. Interestingly, the length and volume of the shout depends on how the button is pressed. the note stays in tune with the background music.
The robed figure wears a trailing magical scarf which allows the player to briefly fly. doing so uses up the scarf’s magical charge, represented visually by glowing runes on the scarf. The scarf’s runes are recharged by walking, or a variety of other means.
Journey’s story is told wordlessly through gameplay and using cutscenes. As the character approaches the mountain, they find remnants of a once-thriving civilization, eroded by sand over time. Scattered throughout the ruins at the end of each area are stones at which the traveller rests; these stones give the traveller the vision of meeting a larger, white-robed figure in a circular room, with art on the walls describing the rise and fall of the civilization mirroring the player’s journey.
Journey is one of those rare experiences in video games. It’s the type of game that gives you a feeling that I can only describe as complete euphoria. The graceful and effortless nature in which the character slips and slides their way through the absolutely stunningly glistening desert is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever had the pleasure of observing in any game.
The union of the gameplay, animation of the character and the incredible soundtrack all combine to create this special ambience. simply wandering throughout the environments is incredibly effective in generating this wonderful calming atmosphere, no words required.
Journey is the type of game that you show to someone that doesn’t understand a love for video games. To display that not only can they be something to switch your brain off to. That they have the ability to be intensely artistic.
This has always been one of those games on my video game bucket list; I’m glad that it didn’t disappoint.
If I were to place one criticism on Journey and it is quite a big one unfortunately. It would have to be its length. Even if you don’t rush through it, you can easily make it to the end in about two hours. This is criminally short. Rushing through the game you could probably shave an hour off. Sadly, the game doesn’t go for cheap. This is a negative. However, this is a game that has to be experienced by anyone that loves the medium. It achieves more in its short runtime than many other games do at ten times its length.