Here at Kotaku, we like to put together lists of tips for getting the most out of some games. Skyrim, Far Cry 3, Arkham City, games like that.
Journey isn’t really a game like those other ones. There isn’t actually a “best” way to play it. But there’s one tip that I wanted to share, because I’ve found myself offering it to more and more people over the last month. Seeing as how Journey has wound up on lots of Game of the Year lists, I get the sense that there are still plenty of people firing it up for the first time.
Here’s my tip: The first time you play, turn the PlayStation Network off and play it by yourself, offline.
I don’t mean to take anything away from the game’s multiplayer features, which allow other players to anonymously drop in and out of your game to spend some time by your side. It’s a lovely thing, and one of the smartest and most distinctive things about Journey. But the first two times I played the game, it was essentially solo — I was playing ahead of release, for review, so there weren’t too many people online. It was just me, and the mountain. And it was amazing.
I recently came back to the game to give it another run (more or less to see how it was to come back to it, now that it’s GOTY time), and found that the experience is markedly different alongside others. I got all wrapped up in trying to follow the person who’d joined my game, and at one point a maxed-out player in a white cloak and I worked for about five minutes to get me up to a platform so I could snag a collectible glyph. The game is interesting and beautiful with others, but I wouldn’t have wanted to experience it that way the first time through.
So: If you still haven’t played Journey but think you’re going to, consider tackling it alone. Turn off your network connection and play it by yourself, at least the first time through. (And if you’ve played it once but it didn’t quite grab you, consider making a second time through solo.)
Don’t worry. It’s a game made for multiple playthroughs, and there will aways be time to experience that neat multiplayer, and maybe even to earn a white cloak of your own. In fact, just like in life, playing with others can give you a new perspective on being by yourself.
But the first time you walk toward the mountain, walk alone.