Published on March 17th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Community Review: Journey
By: Sam Desatoff
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 3
For the past several years, a debate has been quietly stirring within the gaming industry as to whether or not video games count as an art form. I tend to side with the former, citing gems such as Shadow of the Colossus and Limbo as evidence.
After playing through Journey, I can now count it among the medium’s premiere artworks, and although it is sometimes hard to classify Journey as game more than an emotional experience, there’s no denying developer thatgamecompany’s passion for storytelling.
The player takes on the role a cloaked figure in the middle of a featureless desert. The only semblance of an objective is a huge mountain looming in the distance. As I began the game, the distinct art style immediately struck me. The desert took on an almost fluid state, with dunes looking more like ocean waves than hills of sand.
Making your way slowly towards the mountain revealed ancient ruins tucked between dunes that hinted at a greater meaning behind the journey. One environment in particular takes place in a huge underground cavern. Large cloth tendrils float about like seaweed, and the player swims through the air as if underwater.
The controls consist of only a few buttons and are easy to master. You can jump – how far you can jump is indicated by the length of the scarf around the character’s neck – and you can “speak.” Pressing the circle button causes the character to emit a small chirp which serves two purposes. The first is that the character’s “voice” can activate various lengths of cloth that populate the world. These cloths allow for longer jumps and puzzle solving. The second function of the chip is that of communication.
Multiplayer in Journey works in a very unconventional way. At any point during your adventure, you may come across another player. Aside from the aforementioned chirps, there is no way to communicate. However, you can work together to solve puzzles, or lead one another to hidden areas. The entire multiplayer aspect is something that had me torn. On the one hand, I appreciated its seamless integration, and the surprise of encountering another player is hard to match. But, in a game with themes centering on isolation and meekness, I feel that multiplayer was included at the expense of immersion.
The story is conveyed entire without dialogue, and I give thatgamecompany credit for their ability to elicit such heavy emotion. Much of the credit should go to Austin Wintory, the music composer for Journey. In a game without dialogue, music plays an even larger role. Wintory’s compositions are full of emotion and compliment every bit of gameplay perfectly.
Much of today’s big budget releases focus so intently on guns and action that it may be easy to overlook the niche following that Journey is bound to receive. But don’t let the game fly past your radar; thatgamecompany has crafted an emotional story that deserves as much attention and thought as any triple-A title. With an ending that is open for interpretation, Journey will have you thinking long after the credits roll.
[xrr label=”Rating: 9/10″ rating=9/10]
+ Deep story
+ Art Style
– Multiplayer takes away from immersion