[media-credit id=15 align=”aligncenter” width=”400″][/media-credit]Journey does not begin with some complicated tutorial or dramatic opening scene, but simply with the player awakening as a robed figure in the middle of a vast desert.
A large mountain stands in the background, its summit a shining beacon for the player to follow. There are no looming dark forces, no inevitable evils and no insurmountable odds. The player is a person on a journey and nothing could be simpler.
Game play revolves around three mechanics: walking, jumping and shouting in tones. Pieces of cloth that litter the landscape will help lift the traveler during jumps, while glowing orbs can be found to permanently increase gliding distance by elongating the traveler’s scarf. A number of puzzles are encountered along the way, but these are not so much challenging as they are necessary. This minimalist approach completely immerses the player in the game world, highlighting the game’s captivating visual and audio effects. From rolling dunes to crumbling ruins, every shot is a thing of beauty. Even the act of walking is turned into a mosaic of shifting sands and fluttering cloth.
As the player wanders through the world, there is a random chance for him to encounter another traveler, at which point he may choose to continue the journey together or travel independently.
This person is a total stranger, as neither player is given a name or gamer ID and there is no way to communicate save the occasional shout. Journey even disables PlayStation Network chat features to further cement this anonymity. Only upon completing the game together are players given each other’s names. This removes all preconceptions one might typically have based on age or race or sex. Before the player is another person, and choosing to venture forth together namelessly, allows for the most compelling experience ever had with a video game.
Thatgamecompany’s stated mission is to create video games that provoke emotional responses, and Journey is the embodiment of that ideal. While a full run through may only take a couple hours, this is a game that resonates with the soul, and no words can do it justice. It is not so much a game to be played as it is a work of art to experienced.