Go Play Journey Again

Go Play Journey Again

I thought I was finished with Journey. I was wrong.

Originally released in 2012, ThatGameCompany’s beloved PS3 sand-surfing simulator has been re-released this week on the PlayStation 4. I reviewed it back when it came out, which feels like it was a lifetime ago. Since then, I’ve seen critical acclaim, backlash, and back-backlash. I’ve seen its creators give talks and win awards. I kept playing the game. From 2012 to 2013, I played Journey all the way through at least a half-dozen times.

Yesterday I downloaded it to my PS4. I figured it’d be worth having Journey installed on my current Sony console, given that my PS3 is now unplugged and sitting in a corner. It’s free for me, since I already own it on PS3. It doesn’t take up that much hard drive space. Whatever, might as well download it.

“I wonder how it runs on PS4,” I thought, firing it up. I played through that familiar intro, watched as my little red pilgrim climbed the sand dune and beheld The Mountain.

“It looks really pretty,” I thought. A little prettier than before, and smoother, but more or less how I remembered it.

I completed that opening area, where you’re given your first bit of scarf and introduced to the floating red pieces of carpet that let you fly. (Journey can sound kind of silly when you describe it.) I illuminated a mural on a wall and communed with that first white-robed figure. “Yep,” I thought. “This is still Journey.”

Then I caught a glimpse of another player. It was just for a moment, right at the end of that first area. For some reason it gave me a jolt; I hadn’t quite considered how this game is “new” again, how it was just released on a new console. Of course there are lots of people playing Journey on PS4 right now. Of course another player is going to turn up in my game.

As I entered the second area, that second player was right by my side. They stuck with me through the entire first half, in fact. They weren’t a newbie, either — this person knew the location of every one of the scarf-extending collectible glyphs and helped me get to a few that I’d never found back when I played on PS3.

Go Play Journey Again

I had forgotten the extent to which Journey‘s seamless, silent multiplayer defines the game and the extent to which it compels you to continue playing. I had only intended to play for a few minutes, but I found I couldn’t stop. How could I leave my travelling companion in the lurch? We’d already done and seen so much together.

Journey lends itself to interpretation. That has always been part of its appeal, at least to me. The big metaphor — the story of birth, wonder, fear, hardship, death, and rebirth — is obvious, particularly now I’ve played the game so many times. The boundless energy and weightlessness of those youthful opening sections is all the more potent when accompanied by the knowledge of the cold struggle to come. (Hey, it’s just like life!)

I was surprised to find a new interpretation just yesterday, years after my most recent playthrough. When I met my travelling companion, I noticed that their scarf was longer than mine. They’d collected a few more glyphs in the opening areas. They could jump higher than I could, fly a little longer. Each time we stopped to take in the view, I found myself staring at their scarf. Did they notice, too? Did they look at my shorter scarf with pity?

Go Play Journey Again

I struggled in places to keep up, and I started to feel jealous. They’d started out with a lead on me, and no matter how much they helped me grow my own scarf, theirs was always longer. Why was I feeling this way? Why couldn’t I stop fixating on it? Was it me? Had I changed since I last played?

We reached the dangerous underground area, where, if you’re not careful, a great floating leviathan will chase your little red character. One of those creatures spotted my travelling companion, and I watched in horror as the beast creamed them and left them lying, wounded, on the ground. They got to their feet and I saw their scarf had been irrevocably damaged. It was now shorter than mine.

I guiltily thought of my previous jealousy; I’d forgotten that this could happen! I had resented my friend for having more than I did, while forgetting that even in this game, outside forces can be an equaliser. Just because you have a long scarf now doesn’t mean that will always be the case, or that you won’t need to lean on those you’ve supported in the past.

When Journey first came out, I wrote a post advising people to try playing it solo, at least for their first time through. When I had reviewed it, I’d played through the game before anyone else had it, so my first journey had been solitary. Now that I’ve played the game a lot more, I don’t entirely agree with what I wrote back then. It is interesting to experience Journey solo, and I still think it’s worth doing, at least once. But for me, this game has become inextricably tied to the shared experience.

Go Play Journey Again

It remains remarkable how thoroughly Journey achieves the goals articulated by designer Jenova Chen. “We wanted to make an online game [that brought] an emotion that has never been done before in online games,” Chen told Gamasutra in May of 2012. “If you look around at online games in the console market, it’s pretty obvious that no other games give you this feeling of connection with each other, of understanding. The goal was to create a game where people felt they are connected with each other, to show the positive side of humanity in them.”

Journey is more than simply a “modern classic,” and more than yet another last-gen remaster to be downloaded for posterity. It is a living creation with a still-beating heart, and as relevant a work as ever.

To contact the author of this post, write to kirk@kotaku.com.


  • On my PS4 now, ready for me to revisit on the weekend 🙂

    EDIT: Oh, and the Journey dynamic theme on the PS Store for $2.95 is very good too!

  • I was surprised to find a new interpretation just yesterday, years after my most recent playthrough. When I met my travelling companion, I noticed that their scarf was longer than mine….Each time we stopped to take in the view, I found myself staring at their scarf. Did they notice, too? Did they look at my shorter scarf with pity?

    I had resented my friend for having more than I did, while forgetting that even in this game, outside forces can be an equaliser

    Until I got to that last bit there, I thought you were making a completely different metaphor… 😛

  • If i get a ps4 I’ll think about it. But at the same time, I have such fond memories of the first and only time I played through it and I’m not sure if I want to take the chance on the memories of that first playthrough becoming lessened by playing through it again.

    • I thought the same thing, but playing it again actually made me appreciate the game again more. And that was on my PS3!

  • I had this exact same experience last night, except it was firing up the PS3 version again, I came across another player and just couldn’t stop playing.
    Do PS4 players online appear in PS3 games too?

  • Bought it on PSN last night. Cannot wait to hopefully play this through for the first time ever tomorrow on my day off. I was going to try and wait until the physical release with Flow and Flower, but couldn’t hold out…

    Unbelievably excited.

  • I just finished my PS4 playthrough (like, fifteen minutes ago) and it’s just as good as I remember it. I played with a couple of companions and one of them stood out to me. I experienced a new emotion with this person: irritation. They kept chirping non-stop. I mean, constantly, for zero reason. I ended up staying quiet to try and discourage them but to no avail. It was annoying.
    Eventually I chirped once or twice, knelt in the sand, and went to grab a coffee and a shower – by the time I returned they’d moved on, and I continued at my leisurely pace in peace.
    Another real world lesson represented in Journey: when you don’t get along with someone don’t retaliate – turn the other cheek and eventually they’ll leave you alone.
    Oh, and also, a coffee and a shower have the magical ability to make minor problems just… melt away.

  • Once they make a PC version (No real excuse for not doing so!) then I can play it for the first time.

    • Yeah, I think it’s scheduled for release right in between the PC versions of The Last Of Us and Uncharted 4.

  • Oh great, I’ve been looking forward to this! As a previous-gen Xbox owner I missed out on a few greats – now that I’ve got a PS4 I’ve been playing all the classics I missed, like The Last of Us (which was brilliant) – can’t wait to play Journey and then the Uncharted Collection when it comes out!

  • “I’ve seen critical acclaim, backlash, and back-backlash”
    I don’t recall all that much backlash, maybe a few babies complaining that it’s short and you can’t shoot anything.

    I booted it up last night and like this article said, just a few minutes to see how it looks, I got Game Of Thrones ep 5 to play. I ended up playing the whole thing again, I honestly don’t remember the frame rate being this solid and the cloth physics on the actual robe being as good though. Shame it didn’t have cross save, I’d 100%ed it on PS3 and got the white robes.

    Funnily enough, compared to the companions I ran into, I was the guy with the longer scarf and during the two parts where the giant worms attack, both times my poor companion copped the brunt of it, I did manage to show one of them where the ‘Flow’ creature was in stage 5 though.

  • The more I read about Journey, the more intrigued I am about it. I am going to get it and play over the weekend for the first time. I just hope experienced player I meet (if any) won’t be annoyed with me as I imagine I will be drooling over the scenery and fumble the control a lot.

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