People have a hard time talking on the internet about crying. Crying is a vulnerable enough act on its own that taking the time to write about it just seems over the top! When we talk about games like Journey, we usually talk about how “the room got dusty”, or we “got something in our eye”.
Edge Magazine editor Jason Killingsworth has a theory as to why Journey has kicked up so much dust in so many rooms over the last few weeks — it’s the jumping.
The jumping is where Journey breaks your heart. The jumping is why many players cried, even if they couldn’t pinpoint the cause. The jumping is the tiny, insignificant-looking wingnut holding Journey together, without which it would collapse into a heap of exquisitely airbrushed scrap metal. It’s not Thatgamecompany’s token nod to classic video game interactions, settled on after staring blankly at an empty white board for two hours, unable to come up with anything more engaging to have players do. It’s not just a tool for poking around its stunning vistas and drinking in the sights.
Killingsworth says that he initially didn’t understand people’s desire to play Journey for a third, fourth, or fifth time. But now that he’s thought about the jumping, he gets it — it’s about weightlessness, it’s about the incredible, near-perfect feeling of jumping in the game. “Jumping affects the emotional tenor of gameplay in the same way a well-timed key change does a pop song.”
Crucially, it’s not about flying — it’s about jumping. “We don’t want to KO gravity; we simply enjoy head-butting it in the nose repeatedly,” Killingsworth writes, citing other not-quite-flight abilities in Just Cause 2 (yes!) and Batman: Arkham City.
I like flight as much as the next guy, but I think Killingsworth is on to something here. Without the gravity, the jump means less. And my fondest memories of Journey involve sliding down the sand with the sun in my eyes, shooting up the edge of a ramp, and jumping, jumping, jumping.
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