Saturday, March 10, 2012


Soon after the release of Flower, Thatgamecompany began work on a new game called Journey. Having enjoyed the company's last game, I was so excited by the announcement that I recently went back and played Flower again as a lead-in. I wasn't sure what experience to expect as the release date got closer, but this question was answered after getting to see for myself. (This game was released a week early to PlayStation + subscribers.) Having played this game twice already, I can't wait to do it again.

In Journey, you are a mysterious hooded figure travelling through a desert with a mountain in the distance. Along your way to this distant goal, you solve a series of puzzles as you learn more about the world you inhabit. During your journey you can also meet and travel with other players online, however there are no indicators at all as to who they are, and your only form of communication is a wordless shout. All this helps to create a sense of isolation in this vast, awe-inspiring landscape, with a feeling of closure when you are near another traveler.

The controls to this game are very easy to grasp, since there are very few, allowing absolutely anyone to pick them up and begin a new journey. Early on you obtain a scarf that allows you to fly for a brief period of time, which can be refueled by either going near flying pieces of cloth or by touching cloth creatures or other players, and can be extended by touching special symbols hidden across each level. Performing your shout not only allows you to communicate, it also allows you to rejuvenate tattered pieces of cloth spread across the desert and activate statues and small pieces of tapestry that tell you more about the game world's past, present, and even future.

The graphics of this game are simply stunning, putting itself up there with many current Triple-A titles out there. However, Journey surpasses them all in terms of the detail in the sand, even one such as Uncharted 3 which features a desert prominently. The physics for the sand and cloth here, much like Flower with grass, also surpass every other modern game I've seen. I enjoy the way the robes of the travelers flap in powerful wind, rivaling the dress physics in Alice: Madness Returns, and especially how movements from the player and their shout affect the sand in very subtle ways, again beating out Uncharted 3 in this fashion. Equally amazing is the music accompanying the actions onscreen and the layout of each locale, perfectly setting up the game's atmosphere and the emotion it wants from the player.

Journey isn't just simply a game, it's an experience. And while it may be a short experience that lasts under two hours, it is most certainly one you will want to go through over and over again. If you own a PS3, this is absolutely one download you do not want to pass up for any reason.

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