Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
North American Release Date: 03/13/2012
European Release Date: 03/14/2012
Trophies: 11 | 2 | 1
Journey is the latest game released by Thatgamecompany, acclaimed developer of PSN hits Flower and Fl0w. The game's been anticipated so much that it's one of the few games (like Mass Effect 3 and Payday) to be available for pre-order through the PlayStation Store.
Journey's gameplay is very straightforward. You are a red-robed shadow that finds itself in the middle of a desert, with just one objective in your mind: to reach the glowing mountain that apparently lies miles ahead of you. Thus, you start your journey across the desert.
The controls are easy to master and remember, for they are very basic yet flawless. You can move your character with the left joystiq, while you may move the camera with the other, allowing you to explore your surroundings and choose where to go to in case you're lost. In addition to this, as you progress through the game you get a scarf, which grows as you take glowing symbols that are scattered throughout the levels (some of them hidden very well, others at plain sight). With this scarf, you earn the ability to float, albeit temporarily, which lets you progress faster troughout the levels and evade any obstacles you may find at any point. Do note that your scarf's floating ability is temporary, though, as how long it'll last is determine by the glowing glyphs printed on it. Luckily, you can recharge them by finding symbols which will also extend it's length, or by finding pieces of cloth or carpets/tapestries.
Wordless shouts will be one of the best tools at your dispoal throughout this marvelous journey.
Another important ability that your robed figure has that'll help it complete it's journey, is one that can be considered a wordless shout. By pressing the specific button, the robed figure will start kneeling and 'fire' a wordless shout that can have various effects, depending on the situation. If near many pieces of cloth, they'll swarm the robed figure, recharge it's scarf and give it a floating boost (it'll also have a similar effect near carpets/tapestries). If near specific walls, it'll reveal hidden glyphs, and if near another player, it'll recharge the player's scarf depending on how long the shout was charged.
Journey's gameplay is certainly very straightforward and simple, yet it works so well that you won't mind that at all. Thatgamecompany has proven that you don't need a thousand buttons to have great control over a character.
As said previously, the game consists of a red-robed figure in a desert that's on a journey to a giant, glowing mountain that one may see in the background. As the robed figure continues it's journey and finishes levels, it'll have visions in which a bigger figure with a white, long robe, will tell a story through the use of glyphs. Thus, one learns the story behind the robed-figures and their motives behind their attempt to reach the mountain.
While it's not a complex plot and it is told entirely through visuals and sound, it's a rather well told one that accomplishes a lot through so little. Thatgamecompany has proven that one doesn't need an explosion every 15 minutes, a complex narrative or the over-use of time travel to deliver a story, and that it can be achieved without the use of verbal communication, which is an amazing feat in this day and age.
Accompanying the story, the game features over 5 different levels, all of them unique in their own right. They range from the inmense desert devoid of life to amazing slides through ancient ruins, finalizing with snowy levels as the red-robed figure attempts to reach it's goal. Not only are the levels varied, but they all feel unique thanks to their own little puzzles and obstacles, which prove to be more than enough to keep the gamer entertained.
Levels are vast and very well designed.
Sadly the levels, while both amazing and entertaining to play, are very short which makes Journey a game that you will be able to finish in as little as two hours. While this might be a setback, I have found that I don't really mind it that much. The game is amazing already, and had it been longer, it wouldn't have the same impact and trascendence it does. Thatgamecompany surely figured out that with this lenght, the game would give a much better impression, and they were right.
During your journey, you may run out of nowhere with another robed-figure that's only different from you based on a glowing symbol from yours that's on it's chest (which changes every time you play). This robed-figure is anther player traveling towards the big, glowing mountain, but in a twist never before seen in an online game, you can't communicate with it in any way (except through wordless shouts), making him a complete stranger. While you may choose to move on with your journey and forget about anyone you run into, you can also work your way through the levels with their help.
When you are traveling with a companion you might be able to find new secrets, which can lead to new area for exploration or give you a bigger scarf that will be able to help you both out along your way. You can also recharge each other's scarfs by either being close to each other, or by the use of your wordless shout, and the more you charge the shout, the more it'll recharge your scarf, which can help you reach areas you couldn't before, which usually helps you find more secrets or get throughout a level much faster.
At the end of your journey, all the anonymity will fade, though, since after the credits screen you'll be taken to the main menu, where you'll be told who you found during your travels, accompanied by the glowing symbol they sported on their chests.
Unlike many other multiplayer features in other games, Journey manages to make you care and bond with your companion (even though you know nothing about him) and delivers an incredible experience that happens to make a geat game, an excellent one.
Journey is an audiovisual masterpiece. Since the game itself lacks any written or verbal words as you play through it, it instead decides to express everything through amazing cinematics, which are bounded with an excellent score that seek to make you understand the situations shwon on screen in a magnificent way.
The last minutes of the game are an audiovisual masterpiece and, unlike ME3's final ones, make the game stand out even more.
While the graphics won't shock anyone like FFXIII's did, they are beautifully rendered, and throughout most of the game you'll find your robed figure surrounded by bright, hot colors, and others with cold ones, which are used to transmit the way the environment changes and how diverse your journey truly is.
Journey's trophies are very straightforward and simple. You'll have to finish the game more than once and play online with 10 different people, plus you'll also need to find every secret the game has to offer, which is a great thing. While it won't offer any serious challenge to anyone, it'll surely be a joy to those who want to get every single trophy, for the game is amazing.
Journey is one of the few games that I would go as far as to call art since it is able to transmit a lot through so little. It is also fun and entertaining to play, especially with other players. I wouldn't be surprised if other games tried to emulate it's multiplayer due to how interesting and incredibly well executed it is.
All in all, Journey is, without a doubt, a beautiful jewel in the PlayStation Store that everyone should try at some point or another.
Simple but excellent.
Great level design and unparallel storytelling, albeit rather short
Innovative and entertaining like few others before it.
Journey is a unique game and one I'd argue is among the best this entire generation and certainly the best released by Thatgamecompany to date. What truly differentiates this title from many others is Journey has a very concise and clear story, but everything is conveyed through visuals and emotions. What truly makes it great is that it succeeds on all fronts by conveying a story about a robbed traveler on a journey toward a light on the top of a mountain.
Throughout the entire journey you will be met with feelings of loss, wonder, sadness, and joy as you discover why the robbed traveler does what he does and ultimately discover the output. Without a single line spoken every emotion is connected in this truly powerful story. Unlike many games it is impossible to separate the technical and story telling aspects as the visuals play a crucial role, but their seamless blend and genius execution is something that truly pushes Journey beyond its own confines of a simple adventure game into something more. A beacon for a type of storytelling all together new in mainstream gaming.
Moreover the mystery surrounding everything that is not answered verbally leaves the ending up for interpretation in the best way possible. Did the traveler actually make it? Was it all a dream? Is he being punished or is he just one of many people ultimately seeking their destiny? The vague nature of the information presented is something exciting in gaming. The gameplay is very simple, requiring but a few buttons for two or three actions your character needs. It serves its purpose well and this game is easily approachable and will be picked up by any casual or hardcore gamer in minutes.
As with many titles of this ilk, it is very short, lasting only 2-3 hours at best. That should not tarnish your opinion, as this game is ultimately worth every penny you could spend on it. We, as gamers, should demand more games like this. If there ever was a game that truly deserved a 10/10, this one is it.
SCORE: 10/10 Epic