Anyone who has ever told you that video games cannot be considered art, needs to experience one of the beautiful games from Thatgamecompany. Their unique way of designing and creating games serves as a reminder that you don’t need to follow what everyone else is doing to get the most out of creativity. With already past games such as Cloud, flOw and Flower available for everyone to try; Thatgamecompany has released their latest offering in Journey, exclusively for the PlayStation 3. And what has been released is, I am glad to say, a visually stunning, and expressing release that wholeheartedly lives up to the terrific collection of games Thatgamecompany is already known for.
Journey starts you off in an unnamed desert location. Given no narrative or background story, you play as an unidentified character and simply know that your quest is too reach the light at the top of a faraway distant mountain. Your lone power comes in the form of your scarf. This acts as your meter for your ability to jump and glide through the game. Using this at the appropriate times may allow you to find and collect certain glyphs throughout the game, allowing your scarf too grow in length. The longer the scarf, the longer your ability to jump and glide which you will need in the later levels.
Co-op is also featured in the game, although maybe not in the way you would think. Instead of the traditional multiplayer that is currently used to invite and join friends, you start off alone and will meet other people at random in game who can also accompany and aid you during your “journey” throughout. Never knowing who exactly this person is, unless you complete the game, in which their ID will be displayed for you to see at the end. There is no voice chat, although you can communicate in the form of visual and musical notes that your character can produce to draw attention to yourself.
Visually, the game is phenomenal. Thatgamecompany’s creative director Jenova Chen has always known exactly how to perfectly express the tone of their games with vibrant colors and interesting design. The characters have a sort of silent monk look, while environments, companions and others can have sort of an Indian or Asian look and feel to them. Graphics and animations run without any problems, and the cell shaded look for the game is outstanding. You will come across a variety of different scenarios and levels in the game. From one moment crossing what seems like the endless desert plains, to icy cold mountain levels, and sliding down slopes of sand or water in the game. Although not is all peaceful. Huge enemies will search for you at certain times, and if spotted will spell death for your character.
Journey’s beauty is also complimented greatly by the terrific musical soundtrack. Original flOw composer Austin Wintory creates music that perfectly complements the game. If you thought that Flower’s emotional music set the mood, Journey’s musical cues perfectly sync along with gameplay to once again “flow” along with the game.
Controls are responsive, but loose enough to not be over sensitive. You will never feel you cannot move fast or slow enough when really needed. Also, Thatgamecompany are one of the few developers who perfectly find a way for sixaxis controls not to be forcefully but complimentary implemented into their games, always finding practical and useful ways for them to be used.
My only criticism here would be that in a time which people are searching for the next online multiplayer experience, some will pass over Journey simply because of a lack of replay ability. Others might also see the short play length or almost single-player only experience as a try but not buy. Once you have the trophies and played through once, or multiple times, you have seen everything Journey has to offer. Truly a shame as some will miss out on a experience.
Journey, along with the other games from Thatgamecompany are ones not just to play, but experience. From the beautiful lush environments, to interesting silent story and more, Journey is one for people looking for something excellent but different.
Journey gets a 9/10