Journey is a game I've been meaning to review for some time now, and I think the name speaks for itself. Journey is a 3-d platformer with an emphasis on exploration and investigation as you traverse the sands and ancient civilization. There was some problems with development, heads butted, extensions on deadlines had to be made, as well as working with a limited budget and overall manpower. I've read Journey originally started out with just seven dedicated and driven developers working on it. I'll cut to the chase, this game is excellent, and if you own a PS3, you'll want to buy this game . But now, for the review. Let's get to it.
Journey Trailer Youtube vid by: Machinima Trailer
Journey is Visually Stunning
First, let me begin by saying Journey is visually breathtaking. This game is absolutely brilliant in its radiance, and that's something I don't say lightly. From the beginning, this game does something many games seem to do anymore. There is little to no context or guidance. You see a towering mountain in the distance with a bright pillar of light cleaving through the top. By instinct and intuition, you head towards it with the almost overwhelming feeling of being small but tenacious; you know that's the destination, and you'll stick it through to the end to get there and see what there is to see.
Cloaked Figure? Hooded Figure? I dunno, but it Works!
The character you control is a hooded figure with a scarf of mystical abilities which aids the hooded figure by Scraps of fabric charge up its scarf, allowing you to float and glide temporarily. When you find hidden symbols, your scarf is lengthened, which in turn allows you to fly for longer periods of time.
Journey Exploration and Discovery
Journey is unlike so many platformers out there. You act as a sort of acolyte and archaeologist uncovering clues and hints as to what has happened to the ancient ruins of a civilization past ages ago. You are essentially discovering as you go along, and the unique thing that Journey accomplishes is that you get a sense of discovery even without any dialogue or overreaching narrative. Instead, there are quick cut scenes and pictographs in lieu of, "THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, NOW YOU KNOW". And what's more, the connection between the hooded figure and the ancient ruins makes the experience personal and engaging.
Journey can be played cooperatively. And all I can say is, give it a chance. If you're like me, you might be thrown off at first with games lack of communication options. There's no voice chat or chat box. Heck, there isn't even player names or anything like that. Instead, you'll be communicating through calling to each other with musical and lyrical sounds that even sync with Journey's amazing musical score.
Journey Behind the Scenes Youtube vid by: PlayStation Trailers
Give Co-op a Chance
While playing with a random person (And that's another thing, it's completely random no matter what), you can help each other get from A to B. And while this was also something I found irritating at first, it didn't take long to realize what the developers were trying to do. You can help each other or go it alone. And don't worry, you can get in each other's way. There is an alien and unfamiliar element to the game. There is isolation and the overall spirit is in doing and experiencing, not chatting it up. And sticking in voice chat and picking and choosing who you play with would, surprisingly, take AWAY from the experience. Yeah, I know. Perhaps its just one of those things you have to experience for yourself to truly understand. It may sound mushy, but sometimes when I played through with a random person from start to finish, sometimes we'd just chirp our lyrical communications back and forth after a particularly invigorating and spirit lifting segments. Translation: "Wow..." (and not in a sarcastic way by any means, I assure you).
The animations are fluid and smooth and just feel natural and realistic given that every last thing in the game is this fantastical world of imagination. The controls feel right and are wonderfully simply though not in a way that dumbs down the game in any way shape or form.
Journey and Studio Ghibli
Okay, I know what I'm about to say isn't exactly original heck, just about all the praise I've given so is a mere echo of what thousands of people have already said, but when you're right, your right. What I'm saying is this, as I was playing, I was constantly thinking that this game reminded me of a Studio Ghibli movie. (I'm a HUGE Miyazaki fan!!! Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Nausica, Grave of the Fire Flies, Castle in the Sky [or Laputa], and so on and so on.) Hmm... Perhaps I should remind myself I'm reviewing Journey and not some of my favorite animated movies. Its comparable to a Ghibli film in that it is stunningly beautiful and the environments and characters has a certain endearing charm and heart underneath.
Alright, sorry to geek out on you there for a sec, though I'm sure my fellow Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli fans understand. If there are nay gripes I have with the game its I really wish it was longer. The whole game, if you really take your time, if probably about three hours max. Upon completion, you can go back to your favorite sections and play again. And this game is so much fun and so stunning to the senses it would take someone either impossibly hard to please or someone equally jaded to not want to relive their favorite parts of the game. Another thing I should mention is that Journey is not a hard game in the slightest. A few mean stones might hack away at your magic scarf here and there, and the puzzles are very simple and easy to do, if they can even be called such. If you're thinking, "So what, get over it, not only do I agree with you, but for my part I extend the same suggestion to anyone reading this.
Journey Final Verdict
Journey is without a doubt one of the best downloads I've ever spent my money on. And for those seeking something fresh and original, I highly recommend this game. You won't regret it. Journey ears a well earned 9 out of 10. I can only imagine what a full game on disc would be like. Ahem... cough... please read this Sony and Thatgamecompany...