Games | Review | Journey

Journey is the award-winning game by the critically acclaimed developers thatgamecompany, and was originally released in 2012 for the PS3. I downloaded it recently as it was one of the three games available for free on PlayStation Plus a few months ago, and I'd honestly been meaning to play it since it first came out. Life gets in the way though, so I took advantage of the offer.

Journey is the type of game that’s completely up to the player’s own personal interpretation, and I really love that about it. With no verbal dialogue, the characters allow you to fill in the blanks as they present the storyline to you in forms of unique artwork and spirit quest style visions. Essentially, you enter the game and you immediately know your goal: the mountaintop. However, there are no real hints as to why, or who you are, or what you’re doing in the desert; just the instinctual knowledge that you must reach the mountaintop.

There’s just absolutely no denying that Journey is gorgeous. The art style alongside the beautiful scenery makes it a pleasure to play through. I happily ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed my way through the whole game, and stopped plenty of times to admire a sand waterfall (sandfall?), or the way the snow reacted to my footsteps, or the elegant flowing movements of the mantaray-esque creatures that flew through the air. Even the movement of my scarf was more graceful than I’d ever been in my entire life, although I guess that’s not saying much.

The way that Journey presents such a perilous and exhausting quest in such a stunning way is a testament unto itself. I will say though that it only appears to be physically exhausting, as I completed the actual game in under two hours, and that’s including all the searching I did to find scarf extenders (99% sure that’s not the official term). However, you traverse and accomplish a great deal in that small amount of time, braving giant creatures with a laser beam eye (à la the Leviathan in Disney’s Atlantis), interacting with other players and working together, forever moving towards your ultimate goal: the mountaintop. Alongside this, the way you move within the game is definitely a sight to behold; whether you’re struggling uphill in knee-deep snow, or essentially sand-surfing through the environment, or even just the typical gliding movements of the characters, are all simply stunning.

Considering Journey is such a minimalist, visual game, there’s not a great deal to say about it. The enjoyment is clearly only in the experience of actually playing it. I will say that there’s something so unique about having another player enter your game at any given time, and the lack of verbal communication while you work together allows for a strong yet silent bond to be built as you take on this adventure together. This added element allows for a sense of relief both emotionally, and on the isolation that otherwise presses down upon you. The encroaching loneliness, amplified as the only other character you see is within visions, and with what appears to be gravestones littered through the sand dunes, is deafening without the addition of another player.

It’s beautiful and serene, and with the vast, immense landscapes offering such a stunning and immersive environment to roam and uncover, Journey is the perfect example of a gorgeous escapist game. It’s utterly irresistible in its serenity and has left such an impression on me; I was drawn in and captivated almost instantly, and have thought of little else since I played it. I know for a fact that as soon as I get another free afternoon, this will be the first game I pick up.