I’ll Never Forget My First Journey With A Stranger

I’ll Never Forget My First Journey With A Stranger

I love co-op gaming. Ever since I was a child, I have loved teaming up with friends to beat a game together. But Journey taught me something I had missed out on, the joy of teaming up with a complete stranger.

When it comes down to it, Journey is almost a “stealth co-op” game. It never tells you as you play that the other characters you run into are real people. In fact, I have had friends playing on my system reach the end before discovering this.

Journey‘s co-op is something special. As long as your PS3 is connected to the net, you are playing it in co-op. But you have no choice when it comes to your partner — that is all handled by the game in the background. You can’t even choose to play with a real world friend if you want to.

I’ll Never Forget My First Journey With A Stranger

But more than that, there is no typical way to talk to your partner — no voice chat and no text chat. All you have for communication is the ability to “ping.” Yet with only this most rudimentary form of communication, you make friendships. As a pair, you feel joy as you discover something together and sadness as your partner gives a final few pings and disappears as they log out from your game.

Unlike Demon’s Soul, which has a similar “stranger invasion” style of multiplayer with limited communication options, Journey is a game where you can’t hinder; you can only help. In fact, the worst you can do in Journey to someone is to wander off in the wrong direction and hope your partner follows you. Thus, without any way to cause the other player grief, Journey becomes a game with a true cooperative spirit.

I’ll Never Forget My First Journey With A Stranger

And then there are the white cloaks. These players, who have mastered the game, continue to play it for one reason only: to help others. Some will just help newbies reach the end of the game. Others will expose the game’s every secret — effectively training the other player to become a helpful white cloak in his or her own right.

But white cloak or red, all you know of the people you are playing with is the geometric symbol that appears above their heads when they ping — until you beat the game, that is. That’s right. The reward for beating Journey is getting to learn your partner’s name so you can make contact. It’s only when the journey is truly over that you learn about the person you spent several hours playing with. It is a reward with real emotional weight. And that is amazing.

I’ll Never Forget My First Journey With A Stranger

Journey’s unique take on multiplayer made what was already a wonderful game into an experience unlike any other. Even today, over a year past its original release, I can hop on and immediately be matched with a new stranger for a new adventure. In the end, it’s the one game I have where I end up with a new friend or two each time I play.

Last-Gen Heroes is Kotaku’s look back at the seventh generation of console gaming. In the weeks leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, we’ll be celebrating the Heroes — and the Zeroes — of the last eight years of console video gaming.


  • Maybe I should try replaying this. I got kind of bored with it probably around halfway through and stopped playing. It might have been because my partner just seemed like he wanted to get through it rather than take their time with it.

    • Trying to get through it as quickly as possible is probably the easiest way of ruining the game, that really sucks that you got one of those partners on your first playthrough. The game is best when you’re both discovering it for the first time, and using your pings to try and communicate the sense of discovery, wonder, fear of the unknown, and shared elation.

      Best game experience I’ve ever had.

    • If someone you’ve encountered wants to rush you through it, let them. They’ll annoyingly “ping” in the background and jump all over you in their frantic efforts to KEEP PROGRESSING, but you know what? They’ll get bored. They’ll move on. Journey is a game where, unless you share the same motivations for play (discovery, or sharing what you’ve discovered), you won’t have much fun.
      The gameplay filters out idiots faster than any reputation system could. I recommend giving it another go – it really is as good as people say.

  • Journey was easily one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in years. The co-op for me personally is unmatched. I hope we see more games try to take a different approach to co-op/multiplayer gaming.

    • best communication method i’ve ever seen. ping jumps to indicate to the other player that they’ve missed a powerup/scarf bit.

  • You can play with a real world friend. Just go through the portal at exactly the same time. I did all co-op with my friend. Much easier.
    We wrote our names in the sand to make sure it was us.

  • The first time I played this and ran into another cloak, I honestly had no idea it was another player – their actions were slow and deliberate, not hectic like what you’d imagine a player would do – then when the communication attempts with movement and pinging, you’re like, “holy crap!”
    It’s so seamless and integrated you dont even realise what’s going on most of the time – playing through it again knowing you might be giving someone the same experience was awesome

  • I just played through this game and was waiting to stumble across another player and it never happened, just played through to the end and it felt like an ok platformer with a cool art style but nothing amazing.

    Pretty sure I was online because I’d just downloaded the game.

    Why didn’t I find another player?

    • i’ve played through several times – sometimes you do, sometimes you dont encounter another player.

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