GKick Review: Journey

Journey | Available Now
PS3 | Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment | Developer: Thatgamecompany

There are few games that really leave me in absolute awe. Sure, some have amazing environments, some riveting sounds, and some with stellar gameplay. However, most games define these experiences by complexity. Journey does it with simplicity.

Journey never gives you a single instruction. Once you leave the start menu, your character – a mysterious and faceless cloaked figure – begins standing on an unremarkable sand dune in the middle of a vast, seemingly endless desert. The only thing that stands out is a distant mountain pierced by a beam of light. This is your destination. For the rest of the game, your character presses on toward the goal. Only twice did I ever receive any indication of what I was supposed to do, by a subtle hint to press a button. The rest of the game is learned by trial and error. Normally, this would frustrate me. However, That Game Company does an amazing job with as little guidance as possible.

With Journey, simplicity is beauty

Everyone I have spoken to has left with a different impression of the “story.” While there is no dialogue, there are brief moments of cinematics that carry you from one chapter to the next. For me, it was the story of the rise of humankind, from a solitary individual, through the birth of civilization, to humanity’s eventual fall. All told through simple, yet elegant, illustrations on a virtual tapestry. Others I spoke to came away with a different interpretation. Because there is no dialogue or written word, how you interpret the game is left to you.

There is also multiplayer, though it is unlike any I have ever experienced. At certain points in the game, you may notice another cloaked figure, just like you, pressing on toward the same goal. The game never tells you who they are (until the end, when it lists those who journeyed with you), and the only interaction you can have with them is by simple gestures with your character. Nothing more. As simple as it sounds, it adds more depth to the game. Honestly, times when my partner had left felt lonely, and any time I saw another one along the way I made an effort to stay near them. While I never spoke a word with them, I felt a bond form with that faceless, nameless character, and I cherished it.

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About Brandon Nolan

Husband and father, writer, eSports fanatic, gamer and nerd. Nights and weekends I spend my time button-mashing or drooling over baneling busts. You can follow me on Twitter for more gaming news @GKickNolan Game on.