VIDEO GAME BLOG: Journey

By Chris Peralta

Created by the same people who made flOw and Flower, Thatgamecompany released Journey exclusively to the Playstation Network on March 13, 2012. Since then, the game has generated an incredibly positive reception and has received many prestigious nominations, including “Game of the Year” from D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, and Entertain) and even a Grammy nomination for “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.”With the abundance of activity surrounding a game that currently sells on the Playstation Store for only $14.99, I felt like I had to play it.

Now, for the record, I am the type of gamer who mostly plays video games that contain a certain level of difficulty and/or an intricate storyline. So when Journey was released, I chose to ignore it because I had assumed that it would be a short and relatively easy game that wasn’t worth my time or money. To my surprise, I was proven horribly wrong.

For those of you who are interested in playing Journey, I suggest that you play it somewhere you know you won’t be bothered. For me, it was best to play at night simply due to the fact that it was quieter…and I could use my living room’s HD Television.

Journey’s runtime is roughly two full hours if you don’t stop to stare at the very detailed and rather simplistic scenery. But believe me, you’ll stop and admire the work Thatgamecompany put into it. The main thing that I don’t want to do in this review is spoil any of the details regarding the game’s storyline, however, that does not mean I can’t explain what the experience was like as a whole.

To be frank, Journey is a game where you embark on a journey, and it is absolutely beautiful. The visuals are stunningly well crafted and the storyline is easily understood. What’s remarkable about Journey’s story is the fact that anyone can understand it even though a single word wasn’t spoken. How did they do that, you ask? Well, Thatgamecompany brought together a story through pictures and cut-scenes that were placed in-between the game’s levels. These pictures and cut-scenes (though short) were very easy to read and had a clear progression in them for the player to see. For example: your character would move across a hieroglyph after a level was completed.

Let’s talk about the game’s multiplayer for a moment. Through an internet connection, you and one other player (at a time) can play Journey in its entirety. You cannot choose who you play the game with; the game’s engine chooses someone for you and if you do not remain at a close distance with the other player, Journey’s game engine will remove them, and replace them seamlessly.  The funny thing about that is the fact that you won’t even notice a change. Journey, being a game that doesn’t allow any microphone communication whatsoever, only gives players the ability to communicate with each other by making sounds in the game itself. That way, the player gets filled with a desire to know who they are actually playing with.

Is that a downside? I wouldn’t say so. Most games nowadays have a voice capability in order for players to share their experience with friends. By getting rid of the ability for a microphone and creating mystery around other players, Journey brings something fresh to the table in this regard.

To save the best for last, Journey’s visuals are what kept my mouth agape the entire time I was playing. Colors and light are crafted and utilized in the most creative of ways, making Journey a work of art. The sand and the snow felt real. So much so, that at some points I found myself feeling sympathy towards my character as he walked through sandstorms and blizzards, almost like I was sharing his burden with him; something that no game has ever done to me before.

In conclusion, Journey is a game that stands as a marvel in the video game world. Its story doesn’t need words for it to be told, the multiplayer is a welcomed breath of fresh air, and its visuals demand the player’s attention.

Journey deserves to be “Game of the Year.” If you have a Playstation 3, you need to experience it for yourself.