Less Than Half The Journey Is Getting There

Best use of the Journey franchise since Journey Escape.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: March 12, 2012
Despite owning a launch PS1 and PS2 I didn't jump right into the PS3 era. My first real exposure to it was in some dudes apartment in Huntsville, Alabama. I don't particularly recall why I was there or what his name was or a single thing he showed me on the PS3 except for a game from the PSN's infancy, thatgamecompany's flOw. It wasn't enough to get me to run out with my $600 and get on board with the new style, but I was intrigued. A couple years later Metal Gear Solid 4 came out, and I knew it was only a matter of time until I took the plunge. What finally pushed me over the edge was a trio of exotic PSN titles that hit around the same time: PixelJunk Eden, Noby Noby Boy, and the next game from thatgamecompany, Flower. You could make a case that if it weren't for thatgamecompany, I wouldn't be writing for TPS right now.

So yes, I was pretty interested when they started talking about their new project Journey. Time dragged on and we didn't hear much and then next thing you knew it was upon us. Journey had arrived at it's destination and all that. I sat down one evening and played straight through the 2 or 3 hours it took to reach the end and when it was over, I knew I'd had one of the best "gaming" experiences I've had in a long, long time.

I'm not going to tell you a single thing about playing Journey. The less you know about the game going in, the better your experience will be. I'd advise blocking off a chunk of 3 hours so you can play it all the way through uninterrupted. Journey certainly gives you plenty of reason to run through it a couple more times, but the first time through is the most important and should be undertaken in ideal circumstances. Turn off the cell phone, make sure the kids are asleep, do whatever it takes to just let yourself get lost in the game for an evening. It's worth it. When it's over, I'll bet you have at least one new friend on your friends list.

A lot of you will scoff at the notion of paying $15 for a 3 hour game. There are many arguments to toss out in opposition of that sentiment, but I'd rather appeal to your possibly repressed sense of wonder. It doesn't matter if you just play FPS's, RPG's, casual games or Madden And Only Madden, give Journey a chance. Go in with the mind of a newborn baby, free from the preconceived set of rules you have about how "games" are supposed to play. If it seems too abstract early on, push through, things fall into place. Do this because Journey is that rare game that evokes deeper emotions that CAN, but almost never do, come with playing video games. The special games that can see past the need to force ENTERTAINMENT down your throat at every turn use the investment in your character you can only get through interactivity to elicit deeper feelings that leave the bounds of the game and converge with your own reality. I've experienced it before in Limbo, but this eclipsed that for me.

Really, there i nothing more to say about the game. If you have even the slightest inkling that you want to play Journey, you should stop reading anything about it and set aside some time to play. I'd love to hear back from any of you about the experience, and I can assure you you'll want to talk about it. Games like this are what keeps me playing games in an industry often bankrupt in creativity.

(Note for those confused by the strapline: The band "Journey" is in no way affiliated with this game! I was making an Atari 2600 joke!)
The Verdict

I don't toss "perfect" scores around lightly, yet I have no reservations doing so here. Games that summon up emotions from a cold son of a bitch like me are incredibly rare... Journey had me grabbing the box of tissues by the time it was over.


Intentionally not too overdone, you couldn't be accused of lying if you called them sparse with a limited color palette. You can't help feeling that they fit in just right with the game though.


Sparse. Beautiful. Perfect.


It's intentionally left up to you to figure out a lot of the controls, but not only are they simple and exquisitely done, figuring them out is part of the game.


It's so unique it defies comparison to anything except perhaps thatgamecompany's own Flower, and I'll freely admit it tosses aside almost every standard gameplay convention. But what it sets out to do it does almost as well as it can.