Journey was one of those titles that was always in the back of my mind when I bought my Playstation 4, because like many others, I had never gotten around to playing it on Playstation 3. I watched from the sidelines as this odd looking Indie title received high praise and accolades from a number of game reviewers, even the Game of the Year award from such sites as IGN and GameSpot.
When I heard Journey was finally coming to PS4, I was obviously interested and excited to finally get the opportunity to play this well received game, and it didn’t disappoint. I was glued to the screen as I followed the ‘journey’ of my strange little character. The game is incredibly short and clocks in around 2 – 3 hours (depending on how much exploration you do), and I played from beginning to end in one sitting. I never finish games in one sitting, no matter the length, but I couldn’t justify putting this experience down until I reached its conclusion.
An Untold Story
There is a huge pressure looming over the gaming industry today to produce memorable stories that transcend the medium, but more often than not the story ends up being the weakest part of most games. The story of Thatgamecompany’s Journey is certainly one that will stick with me for a while, and one of the reasons is that it was simple, and never tried to go somewhere it couldn’t reach. There isn’t any dialogue, and there’s no context for what’s happening throughout the game, but I never felt like I was lost or uninvested in what I was looking at. There are deep emotional moments alongside silly childish ones, and that mood contrast added a level of realism to this cartoonish land I was exploring.
Expanding on those lighthearted moments of the game, there was a feeling of nostalgia that was with me from the moment I began my journey. This is a really unexplainable feeling though, because I’ve never played this game before. I just felt like a kid again while I was sliding down hills and chasing flying pieces of cloth (there’s a few moments where those elements are combined, and it just brought a smile to my face), and that’s the type of experience you can’t put a price on. You can kill as many zombies or aliens as I want, but I cannot think of a game that has erupted this nostalgic feeling within me so well in recent times.
Journey’s visuals feature some of the most gorgeous landscapes I’ve ever seen, and the art direction is just brilliant. The vivid colors and cartoonish environment pop in a fashion similar to that of Ico, and that’s the game that I was most reminded of during my short play through. There are moments when you’re in vast deserts where all you have to look at is your footprints in the sand; other times you’ll stumble upon large ruins that can be explored and admired. The way the sunlight glistens off the sand is mesmerizing, and the lighting and atmosphere in general add to this beautiful world creating a package that I would consider unrivaled. The verdict here is that this is the most beautiful game I’ve ever played.
Behind the stunning setting, was a perfectly paired score composed by Austin Wintory. As you experience the emotional shifts in the story, the music said exactly what I was thinking and sang it back to me in a flowing set of melodies that elevated the experience to the height it was hyped to. I know I’ve said it many times in this review, but this game truly was an experience, and that is the best word I can think of to describe it.