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.