Is gaming art? Journey is one of those games that makes it pretty hard to be on the “no it is not” side of the debate. This review is not meant to stir up that pot anymore, but it is hard to play Journey and not think about it that way. Similar to one of That Game Company’s previous games, Flower, Journey is a whole lot more than a short little one-word-titled-game; it is an entirely unique and interactive artistic experience.
The game has a fairly basic premise: you are on a journey. You travel through a few different environments, but most are basically sand or snow. The game consists of puzzles for the most part, and there isn’t really a whole lot of “combat” encounters really. It is more of an interactive artistic experience. There is no voice acting, and the minimalist sound design can be very soothing at times. I don’t want to really say too much about how the game plays, or any specific gameplay mechanics because discovering and experiencing those for yourself is the majority of the fun. The story itself is very vague and mostly metaphorical and suggestive; but this is not necessarily a bad thing. What you get out of this game is mostly equal to what you put into it.
Overall, the game accomplishes something very unique and specific that is hard to explain in words. After playing it, you are in a different and calmer state of mind. That is not to say the game is boring, but it is relaxing. Seeing the wonderful graphics create this image of a desert that looks like an ocean in the way it moves, as your character floats through the air is a breathtaking site.
Journey has some multiplayer features as well, but it isn’t anything significant. As you are playing, you can come across other people “adventuring” and you can even assist each other in your travels. Much like the rest of the game however, I was left hungry for more. There is no form of matchmaking, or the ability to go on journeys with specific people on your friend’s list. This seems like a missed opportunity, because the game really is more enjoyable with another person. As of now, it seems like it is mostly just entirely random.
The artistic style screams for attention, and they did a fantastic job. This game is not just a journey in the sense that you are traveling in the game, but it is a mental journey as well. With all this being said and truly meant with 100% enthusiasm, the game suffers in a lot of other areas.
For example: I am pretty sure I have spent more time playing almost any other game I have put my hands on. This experience, while truly unique and entertaining, is entirely too short. The game will probably take you roughly 90 minutes to complete, and there is little to draw you into the game for another round. This, combined with the fact that the game is $15 on PSN when it launches, seems a bit ridiculous.
The fact of the matter is that the old saying lives true in this adventure: it’s not where you’re going that matters…it’s the Journey that counts. The story isn’t really anything significant, and the conclusion to the tale is hardly the focus. However, the entirety of this beautiful artistic experience is something worth mentioning. Journey is a wonderful experience from beginning to end, but after you finish the short-lived game, you may feel unsatisfied when taking the price tag into consideration.
Journey launches on the PSN for $15 on March 13th. What do you guys think?
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Sony.