Journey Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Journey Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

A Journey Of The End

Lately, the gaming industry has been under a lot of scrutiny. Particularly BioWare with the ending of Mass Effect 3. There have also been cases in which video games have been pointed out as the “problem” with today’s youth. Animosity-driven plots, crazed gunplay, and nonsensical meanings “hidden” behind the stories. Even the “video games are art” argument has reared its ugly head once more.

All of these things continue to be blights on an industry that otherwise continuously delivers surprise after surprise. One video game company, however, has never really set out to challenge the industry, instead only delivering the games they are certain players will enjoy. I am referring to thatgamecompany. With flOw and Flower, the industry riddled with muscle-bound meatheads, scantily clad heroines, and larger-than-life weaponry embraced something fresh and innovative. What players found was a rewarding experience.

Journey Screenshot

Neither of those titles were video games in the truest sense, but due to this, gamers were allowed to experience deeper truths. For instance, Flower’s message was about saving the very world we live in. It wasn’t difficult to pick up on the subtlety there and enjoy the experience that much more because of it.

Journey is just like this, except there is a little more magic than I would have expected.

Journey begins with a scarlet-robed character waking up in the desert. The desert surrounds this figure, and, as you sit motionless waiting to begin, you see things in the distance. The farthest is a mountain with light pouring out of the top, which is your ultimate destination. Right from the beginning, you will see a vast landscape of sand and markers across the landscape.

Journey Screenshot

Soon you’ll come to a glowing hieroglyph floating in the air. Upon touching it, your character grows a “scarf,” and utilizing the new simplistic button controls, you discover you are able to soar into the air after gaining power from the drifting pieces of fabric. This allows the wanderer to travel further distances. It also allows for gliding, and the ability to reach higher places where you can find more hieroglyphs and work out puzzles throughout your journey.

Since you are only using two of the buttons for your abilities, controlling the character is that much easier. Even though some of the puzzles can challenge you mentally, more often than not you will find everything is presented with an approvingly low challenge level. This experience is more about the completion of a journey. And this might not even be the literal journey the character has embarked upon, but something deeper, maybe metaphorical.

Journey Screenshot

See, this game actually made me sit back and consider several different angles for the narrative. With the overall storyline advancing whenever you complete an area, you’ll discover more about the robed figure and the journey this character is taking. Still, there is something else entirely going on under the surface.

I would almost feel that, with the way the game unfolds in the beginning, it’s about the ancestry of the robed figure. However, as the story unfolds (this is the beauty behind the game, as it may very well be completely different for you), you find yourself emotionally connected with this faceless, speechless, and nameless character all the same. You find yourself wanting to help them finish this journey, and once completed, you’ll probably want to do it all over again to embrace the meaning you’ve come away with.

It’s this spiritual connection that makes Journey stand out to me the most. This and the beautiful scenery. Never have I looked at a desert in a game and felt like I was watching a painting move. Add this to the way the robed figure melds into the landscape and the impact, visually, is astounding. Not only is the desert beautiful, but so is the architecture of the buildings and the “fabric creatures.” The fabric creatures are there for you to rescue, and even these can be viewed in different ways depending on how you absorb the games content. Are you freeing parts of history? Are you freeing spiritual confinements? Are you simply just fulfilling a set of requirements in order to continue?

While I have been praising the game’s seemingly open interpretation structure and mesmerizing artistic style, one simply could not feel any of the things I have described without the melodic music echoing throughout the game. From the opening menu to the final score, you are engulfed in a deep calm. So much, in fact, that many could use the soundtrack from Journey as a lullaby album for an infant, or even for oneself. Mix the wondrous music with the realistic sounds of walking through sand, fabric flapping in the wind, or the random sounds the “fabric creatures” make, and Journey has one of the strongest audio presentations this year so far.

Journey Screenshot

After so much praise, you might assume there’s nothing wrong with Journey. You’d be right to a certain degree, if length wasn’t a factor. However, the game is incredibly short. Yet on your first playthrough you will find yourself immensely satisfied with the amount of content, because after completion you will most likely begin a new journey immediately. This is a testament to the game’s play value.

Not once in my repeated playthroughs did I find myself disappointed with the experience. Each time, I was absorbing more of the surroundings and more of the spiritual essence of the game. It’s because of this that playthrough time might not be a true factor in the overall value of the game. Ten bucks for a game that potentially may show you a different side of the gaming industry as well as yourself? I think that’s more than paying for itself.

I have had the privilege to enjoy many different types of video game experiences in my lifetime, from the mundane to the gorgeous. Yes, there have been experiences like Journey before, but it has been far too long since we’ve seen one. If thatgamecompany continues to deliver games that challenge boundaries and give players a deep understanding of their own selves, then I will always be among the first to sing their praises.

Stunning! 4.8 Control
Simplistic approach and execution make this more enjoyable. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Melodic harmony. 4.2 Play Value
I found myself playing through the game several times in one sitting. 4.8 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Travel through a lonely, ruined world populated by real players and collaborate with them in real-time.
  • Use skillful platforming and deft puzzle-solving ability to progress through the world and unravel the mystery.
  • Beautiful game world filled with realistic sand dune physics and wind.

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