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Journey review

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Journey
  • Journey
  • Journey
  • Journey
  • Journey
  • Journey
  • Journey

Summary

Our Score:

10

Pros

  • Beautiful graphics and music
  • A unique emotional experience
  • Can be shared with other players

Cons

  • Short (though arguably not too short)

Available on PS3

Two things make Journey hard to talk about. Firstly, it’s an astonishing game, but astonishing in a way that’s hard to describe. We can try and cover how you play it, what you do, what it looks like and all that kind of thing, but somehow it all seems a bit prosaic in comparison to the experience of actually playing it. There’s a famous dictum that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and we feel a bit like that about Journey.

Journey

Secondly, it’s a game you should enjoy while knowing as little about it as humanly possible. In fact, we would urge you to put down your tablet, close up your laptop and shut down your PC, fire up your PS3, go to the PSN store, purchase the game, download it and then come back for a nice chat about how good it is in the comments thread (unless for some unfathomable reason you don’t like it, that is).

Still, if you want to read a review beforehand, here it is. Journey comes to us from Thatgamecompany, the small developer that gave us Cloud, Flow and Flower, the last two of which have appeared on PS3. With each game the developer has been growing more ambitious, and while Journey is a short game, at roughly ninety minutes to two hours in length, it feels like an epic. You begin as a robed figure – let’s call them the pilgrim - seemingly lost in a vast desert, with the only visible objective a large mountain in the distance.

Journey

This mountain is your goal, and all you really do in Journey is make your way towards it. There are elements of platforming in the scenery you travel through, with ancient ruins and abandoned cities, and in the way that you can fly for brief periods, activate ancient mechanisms and use structures to protect yourself from adversity. However, it’s hard to say that Journey is a platformer in the classic sense. If we were pushed, we might say that it’s a bit like Shadow of the Colossus without the Collosi, or like a weird, ambient take on The Legend of Zelda. Neither explanation really does it justice.

To really get to grips with the experience, we have to start using words like ‘mysterious’, ‘opaque’ and ‘enigmatic’. Journey doesn’t really explain anything beyond the most basic controls. What plot there is is explained in minimalist, ancient-looking tableaux, and the characters and locations are deliberately unnamed. You can work out the game mechanics and how visual indicators relate to matters of gameplay, but nothing is ever forced down your throat. Everything is simply what it is.

Journey

Yet the game feels personal and strikingly cinematic. As a camera pulls back to show magnificent architecture or draws in on the pilgrim’s slender robed frame, and the game’s beautiful sweeping score kicks into high gear, it’s a surprisingly emotional experience. During one playthrough of Journey you might experience uncertainty, wonder, joy, fear, awe and hope, and it’s all down to the game’s masterful use of scenery, framing, light, colour and music. Journey is an extraordinary game.

Ed Churchward

March 15, 2012, 9:06 pm

Any sign of this coming to the PS Vita?

ClivePounds

March 16, 2012, 2:17 am

Recently, independent title "Dear Esther" fully renewed my faith that video games can be intelligent and beautiful; and have story lines good enough to make most Hollywood blockbusters look like the tripe they (usually) are. It was with great anticipation, then, that I read this review. Well, just the start and end - I skipped the middle when you got all worried about giving too much away! After just finishing my first play through, I must say I was not disappointed. Superb achievement. I'd like to say more, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone else..!

Bugblatter

March 16, 2012, 4:23 am

I'd like to try it but I'll have to find a way to do so without giving Sony my credit card details again.

ChaosDefinesOrder

March 16, 2012, 2:29 pm

pre-paid credit card?

DevGuy

March 18, 2012, 1:26 am

Wow, just wow. This game is worth every penny. Just buy it, seriously you won't regret it!

Greg Shewan

March 19, 2012, 8:27 am

This game is just enchanting... so beautiful in so many ways. I cant wait to finish it today!!!! Get it!

Doug Ellison

March 23, 2012, 12:36 am

I'm an emotional, let's go exploring kind of guy....but it seems like I'm in a minority of one when it comes to Journey. I hated it. This is what I tweeted after finishing it "I pushed my PS3 D1 joystick fwd for 2 hours. In related news, I just completed Journey. Honestly, I don't get it." and "Level 1-Walk in sand. 2-in snow. 3-in snow up a hill. 4-in snow up a windy hill. 5-Whiteout. 6-Repeat 4&5. Roll credits"

It's beautiful - for sure, but it wasn't worth the money or the time it cost me. I simply do not get the appeal.

Ed

March 23, 2012, 1:15 am

Interesting. I've been waiting to hear a view like this because it did strike me from reading about it that this was maybe a bit too non-game like for my liking, which is why I haven't stumped up the cash yet. Will probably take the plunge at some point, though.

vivster

April 6, 2012, 5:20 am

An interesting game. Certain moments gave me flashbacks of Flashback (on the Amiga). I'm not certain I'd say it was as great as others have been claiming however its definitely a worthwhile experience and one I'd recommend all to give a go especially given the price. I hope ThatGameCompany look to expand on the whole non-verbal co-op play that was conceived in this game for future releases...that in itself is a particularly significant potential 'game-changer' in terms of online multiplayer gaming.

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