Reader Review: Journey

I said I was done gushing about Journey, but that doesn't mean I can stop other people gushing -- right? Kotaku regular Blaghman has written a reader review of Journey, and I think you should read it!

Take it away Blaghman!

Journey

I'm a tad late to the party, but Journey wasn't a game that particularly interested me, pre-release. I knew that "thatgamecompany" was known for quality works, and that some people were particularly excited about it, but my last foray into one of their games had been playing Flow when it was a Flash game, so I hardly consider myself experienced with their works. Picking it up at the recommendation of friends, I was blown away by what I found.

Loved

Beyond Words: There is something "sublime" about Journey. It's inspirational, and thought provoking. It makes you want to use words like "invoke" or "angelical" rather than "create" or "good." To describe the game, it's hard to go beyond "you're a person, and you chirp, and jump, and go around, and there's sometimes some other people. Oh, and there's a desert and stuff." But to try and describe exactly what it is like that is beside the point, and rather misses it. You can't explain this game properly, just what it does.

Catharsis:The game starts calmly, in the middle it gets intense, and when you reach the finale, it delivers what so many games fail to. The ending is a reward for everything you've gone through, in your brief time in the game. It's not a chore, it's not a slog. You get a feeling of empowerment, and it feels absolutely fantastic.

Beautiful: This game is ridiculously pretty. The sound design is great, with some good music, and it's a visual feast. The sand ripples and flows, your robes move through the wind, and your scarf, a visual acknowledgement of your growth, flutters around. Elements of the game stand out, and it never feels cluttered. While there were very occasional moments of slight graphical slowdown, they were justified through what was on screen, and never slowed the "action."

FRIEND!: When playing the game, someone else can drop into your game. You adventure together, you huddle together against the elements. If you get the right person, you can grow attached to your partner. I made a mistake, and was separated from an internet stranger, and I felt bad. I called out to them, and they to me, but it was too late. We were apart. Another element of this design comes from what you do in the game. There were parts in my first playthrough, where I thought to myself "This would work better with a partner" and others where I felt the opposite. Having played it again, I found that the latter was rarely true. The game feels far fuller with an accomplice.

Fun: I know I touched this in my first point, but this game is really fun. I'm not sure why, or how, but playing it put a smile on my face, and never felt like a chore. While you could classify this as an "art game," the typical "deep implications" and "greater meaning" are put on hold here, to make a game that feels good to play.

Hated

The Camera: In general, the Camera when you play with a friend is fine, it moves to keep you both in sight, if it can, and it never does anything badly. However, by doing so, it obscures some of the details. There are lots of little things which I simply couldn't see, or notice, with someone else in the game. So I recommend a play-through on your lonesome, where you explore, and see the sights, just so you can ensure you get everything out of the world.

A Short Adventure: The game is short. It took me about two hours to play through it, and I've put about five and a half hours into it now. It has the benefit of being a lot like the first Portal though, in that it's designed for its length, and it never outstays its welcome. I loved the world it was in though, and I wish that I could explore more of it somehow, someday. All the elements point to something more, and while your story is complete, I really want more out of the world.

To summarise, I don't think I can express how much I think you should play this game. It's an art game, without feeling pretentious. It's beautiful, and fulfilling. For $20, I felt that this was well worth my cash, and I don't think I can extol its virtues any further. If you have a PlayStation 3, and you haven't bought this game, please do.


Comments

    Nice one, Blaghs

    I reckon I need to pick this one up soonish... but... ME3!

    but what is it? =P

    Seriously though i'll probably try it some time but i can never get a sense of what this game actually is.

      You cross a desert, trying to reach the peak of a mountain. Along the way, you have fun.

      It's kind of tricky to describe but I sure as hell enjoyed every moment of it and have already gone back and played it a second time.

    I'm so tired of hearing about this game. Played it through, it was ok - end of. It's so overrated.

      Your face is over rated.Actually to each his own, you didn't love it that happens i couldn't get into half life 2 one of the most highly regarded games ever made. Its all a matter of perspective.

        You...you didnt like HL2? Do you even like games?

          I like the one with the creatures with wings are mad at some bacon making creatures. I play it on my ifone. Its really gud. I also like the on facebook with the farmers in a village of some sort

          My review on why i didn't like HL2

          no wolf make it ok great but not ok good just great ok bad

        Same couldn't get into HL2. And only played the first one multiplayer. It's in the eye of the beholder.

      Did you stick with a buddy for most of it?

      I've noticed that most of the people who aren't gushing over how awesome it is are the ones who didn't stick with someone for most of the game.

    God blaghs, shut up! you are like the 4th worst person on this site.

    Good review though buddy:)

    Loved it also, my first playthrough ended in disappointment though, having found a travelling partner from the beginning, only to lose them to a nasty blast of wind. After much searching, wasn't able to find them again and pressed onto the end alone, did make me appreciate the game more though.

    Would recommend to everyone and also would love for an SSX style game with these Vistas and mountains! :) SANDBOARDING FTW!!!!!

    Game of the year for me so far, no question.

    I think the length is actually perfect - strips the game of every last ounce of padding, leaving a completely undiluted experience without a single wasted minute in its running time. No backtracking through areas you've already played, no sitting through pointless conversations with boring NPCs, no bullshit. I've played through it 5 times now. At about 2 hours a run, that's 10 hours so far, which is more than reasonable for a $20 game. I've bought full-price retail games and got that many hours out of them. And I'll be replaying Journey many more times, I'm sure.

    Nice review, Blaghman. Pretty much mirrors my thoughts on the game.

    While I'm at it, here's a shameless plug for my review of Journey: http://unbearabledutch.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/journey-review-ps3-meaning-of-life.html

    Can the camera really be criticised? For the vast majority of the game it can be controlled by the right stick. The parts where you can't are very deliberate and well used to show the player something important or beautiful. I'm wonder if this player was tilting their controller every which way, so the six-axis was going nuts.

    This is also the perfect place for this... regarding the Journey Soundtrack, the guy who did it is Austin Wintory, I'm led to believe that if you sign up to his newsletter before Wednesday, you will be entitled to a free EP of Journey-inspired music, plus one of the tracks from the OST.

    So it's not the real OST, but the way I look at it, it's music that was made for the game but in the end another track was selected. So it more than likely worthy of signing up for!

    http://www.austinwintory.com/ - "Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter below. A special Journey-themed free EP will be released to those who do, in addition to a free sample track from the forthcoming soundtrack."

      Thanks for the reminder! I meant to do this after I first finished the game but forgot.

      The soundtrack is probably my favourite thing about the entire package. Truly beautiful stuff.

    Pretty much echoes my thoughts, I really enjoyed Journey. I started playing it while my non-gaming housemate watched and he was in a state of confusion: "What's the point of the game? What do you actually do? What the truck is going on? etc". Clearly he didn't want to hop aboard this journey :(

    I want to try the game but without a demo, its hard to plonk down the cash.

    If there's one thing I hope sony unashamedly steal from microsoft for the next iteration, it's the requirement that downloadable games have a trial. Thats gotten me to buy games I'd normally never have done so and conversely saved me HEAPS of money on things that looked good but ultimately sucked

      The game is about 2 hrs long, a trial would be a waste

    What I really loved about the game is that you never "lose", having to lose sort of puts off a lot of my non gaming friends, so they sort of enjoy Lego games because you can't lose. I am now in the process of persuading them to give Journey a go and see how they like/don't like it.

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