Did Journey Blow Its Ending?

Did Journey Blow Its Ending?

ThatGameCompany’s Journey was an immaculately constructed game; one that felt like it didn’t have an ounce of fat on it. From beginning to end, not a single experience was repeated.

But how about that ending? (If you’ve yet to finish Journey, read no further.) From freezing ice to soaring mountaintops in seconds. But was it one sequence too many?

Edge columnist Stephen Poole thinks so. As his little red dude collapsed in the snow, he thought he was seeing a truly bold, visionary ending.

The screen faded to white, and I thought, ‘This is the best ending of any video game ever.’ The game told you exactly what was coming, and fulfils that promise with a brutal purity. It is a fond yet unyielding comment on the simplistic quest-triumph narrative of nearly every other video game, and a memento mori demonstrating that all lives, whatever joys they contain, end the same way. It is Passage writ large on a HD canvas. And then my glowing white spirit-mother, or whoever she was, appeared to me, and I realised with a horrible sinking feeling that the game wasn’t over after all. The truth is that Journey doesn’t know when to stop.

When I picture the gaming ending where Poole suggests it might have, I have to agree that it would have been an exceptionally bold move. I’m one of those people who thinks Bioshock should’ve just ended after the protagonist golf-clubs Andrew Ryan.

But when it comes to Journey, I’m in the camp where I prefer to think of the final sequence as “whatever comes next” after death and before rebirth; it’s not some happy ending, not by a long shot. I don’t really care that they gave us a view of heaven before sending us down to do the journey all over again.

Maybe if they had done alternate endings, depending on the choices you made in the game… wait no, that would’ve been terrible.

Journey’s Ending is a Cop-Out [Edge]


  • Ending was fine to me. I think alternate endings would have actually made the game more
    complicated than it needed to be. IF there were to ever be a sequel, which will probably never happen,
    it would also make no sense to have more endings. (Secretly hoping for a sequel 😉 hehe

  • From a narrative standpoint, it’s perfectly justified to argue either side of the ending argument, but it depends on what you’re looking for. The important element is evident in the name, it’s a story of a journey. When you die at the top of the mountain, that is essentially the end of your journey. The following level may as well be a precedent to the next playthrough, and the next journey.

    And anyway, from a gameplay perspective, the final level gives an immense level of catharsis. While the game is never difficult, the feeling of freedom in the final level helps to cap off the game, and makes that part a reward for what you’ve gone through, rather than a slog, which so many other games have.

  • Some people are never happy. Go and make your own game then Stephen Poole….”The truth is” you’re a gronk.

  • Totally disagree! The part after you die was the most amazing and uplifting part of the whole game, it’s what made the experience. If it had ended when you die, it still would have been an amazing game, but I’m sure I would have been left with a slightly sad feeling instead of the complete buzz of happiness I was on when I did finish it. Such an incredible game, the first game that really wowed me for quite a while (the previous one being Portal). The music in that last section combined with the soaring visuals just hit all the right buttons for me.

    Also, my interpretation is that you don’t get reborn to do the journey again, instead you become energy that is sent out in the form of those symbols, that helps revitalise the land and as well as helping others on their own journeys.

      • I agree. The last few levels do such a great job at making the journey harder and harder. To die and then have the last euphoric level to float through total unhindered is what makes the Journey experience special – especially if you experience it with another person. To leave it at the death scene, wouldn’t have been a bad thing creatively, but ending on a high is the way I would have preferred it.

    • Yep, spot on.

      Journey was an amazing game from beginning to end, but the finale was truly great – one of my favourite endings ever. I know exactly what you mean about the “buzz” – the first time I played it it made the hairs on my arms stand up, and even now that I’ve played it 7 or 8 times it still gives me that uplifting feeling every time and leaves me with a stupid grin on my face.

      And I love the very end… walking through that narrow passage into the blinding light, to the last strains of Apothesosis (my favourte track out of Austin Wintory’s incredible soundtrac)… stunning. I wouldn’t trade that ending for all of the ice cream in the universe.

    • Yes.

      That last part is what got me so pumped up with an emotional high that I called my friend at 1 am to tell him how awesome it was.

  • Dragon’s Dogma spoilers coming up…

    At the end of Dragon’s Dogma I lost against the boss, and was given an ending I wish that they had been brave enough to make the only possible ending. Although the winning ending isn’t too bad either.

  • The ending was pure bliss, Apotheothis starts playing and you have almost complete freedom compared to the whole ‘Journey’ (Ahhh he used the title!), to struggle so hard just to fall over and die makes no sense for the game

    • Just another example of someone seeing a creative piece of work, standing on a soapbox and yelling at the people who worked damn hard on it ‘NO YOU SHOULD HAVE MADE IT THIS WAY BECAUSE I KNOW SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU’

  • It’s an interesting idea, but if the game had ended there, we never would have heard the amazing Apotheosis track that was the highlight of the game’s music. 😛

  • Disagree. If Poole wants a Debbie Downer ending that’s nice for him, but after the whole uplifting thing of struggling up the mountain with a second person it would feel like having sand kicked in my face for it to all feel futile. The real ending, coupled with getting the screen-name of your partner so you can go say thanks to them, was totally the way to go.

  • The ending literally brought me to tears. No other game has ever come close to doing that. I’ve played through it about 4 times now and every time it has the same effect on me. I’m not an emotional person, but this game hits a nerve that just sets me off. And to that I say, good fucking job.


  • I thought the ending was perfect. It played my emotions like a puppet. Had it simply ended on quiet despair instead of that amazing tide of hope and euphoria, I would have been impressed, but I never would have played it again, and never would have recommended it so fervently to other people. I like a good tragedy but the full rollercoaster of emotion at the end was more satisfying.

    A part of me wonders if Poole played it alone – he makes no mention of the multiplayer aspect that I could see in his article, and that was a huge part of the experience, and certainly has an extremely profound impact on the journey through the snow.

    • That’s a great point.

      It was definitely heartwrenching to be weakly trudging through the blizzard with my companion, both of us slowing and growing colder, until finally they fell a few feet ahead of me. I limped towards their body and collapsed directly beside them… and then we pretty much went to heaven and got to fly around each other and likely both yell “wooohooo!” at our respective televisions…

      The impact of the multiplayer aspect of Journey cannot be overstated.

  • Am definitely in the “Uplifting, perfect ending” camp.

    Sometimes you just need to hit rock bottom to appreciate anything above it. Or in this case- die frozen in the alpine blizzard before you appreciate soaring triumphantly though sun-drizzled vales. Goosebumps- of awe OR terror- are missing from many games these days. Journey has them in spades.
    I have all three thatgamecompany efforts, and will still throw down for Journey SE on disc.

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