Lindsay Reviews: Journey

Posted: February 11, 2013 by theelindsayclarke in Games
Tags: , , ,

Today I’m going to review Journey: simplicity at its best.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ll be preaching to the choir with this review. Journey is the short and simple small-time game from Thatgamecompany that came out March 2012. By this point I’m pretty sure everyone who’s wanted to play it has, but I’ll throw in my two cents with my Triforce of Power: plot, style and gamer-friendliness.

What’s great about this game is its ambiguity and its simplicity. It’s been a while since such a simplistic game has made it big; likely some gamers were starting to believe such games just weren’t going to exist anymore. Journey gives that kinda-stoned type of enjoyment that games like Flow provide, but with slightly (very slightly) more plot. In essence, you’re this cute critter that kind of reminds me of a chibi-Jawa, journeying towards a really big mountain. Nothing’s explained to you, you just start heading forward. Since you’ll find landmarks and useful items in the direction of the mountain, you’ll probably eventually get that that’s where you’re going. Or you can just derp around obliviously like I did. The game’s still gorgeous either way.

journey 3

Not to mention that this game truly is a journey. You start off trekking through a desert, and you’ll explore several other environments as the plot is slowly revealed to you. There are hardships where every step feels like a journey, and your character is so tired you’re positive you messed up and will die. That’s awesome. The game’s plot is used to add difficulty and gameplay time. Every portion of the game relates back to its central theme: a journey, and this simple idea for a video game works really well.

Which brings me to Journey’s style. This is probably its central selling point: the plot prototype and the controls all revolve around the game’s style, and it’s certainly where Journey shines. I’m going to type the word simplicity again, because it’s really the essence of the game. Simplicity. Everything’s so peaceful and simple. Your character makes these soft, lovely noises when you call to other players, the environments are huge and beautiful, and the items you strive to collect allow you to fly for a little while (or eventually a long while). Journey is a good display of how video games are definitely an art form. It can be an emotional and harrowing experience, flying your little Jawa around a desert. This is the kind of world you just want to live in, the way you’d like to feel all the time. Even when you face much more difficult tasks, like a long, hard journey through an arctic level, you are still awestruck by the beauty of the world they’ve made for you, and it’s worth every step.

journey2

Onto gamer-friendliness. This is where I tend to be the biggest grump. I’m picky as hell, and even the best games tend to fall short for me in this category. Well, this is where Journey falls short (just a smidge) too. The controls are easy to grasp, which of course fits into the easy, simple gameplay. But there are two things I take issue with. One is that it starts you off in online mode, playing with others to reach secrets or to get to the next step more easily. I find that takes away from the lonesome journey quality that is the main point of the game. Plus you may find that you have some dumbass calling out to you every three seconds so that he can get a trophy for doing something that includes multiplayer mode. It really kills the mood. This wouldn’t be a problem if I hadn’t had an extremely hard time finding a way to play the game offline. I honestly think it preferable to just give the player the option to start the game online or offline, and I was surprised they didn’t think to do that from the get-go, since it fit the game so well. My other issue (most people’s issue, form what I hear) is that the game is incredibly short. I think it took me just under three hours to beat, though I can’t be sure as I left my PS3 on while I went to school. And I am a completionist. It took a person who has to search every section of every level three-ish hours to beat this game. Damn. They do try to make up for this in a way that works for me, at least: the more times you play the game, the more your robe fills with pretty patterns, and you get some bonuses from beating it x amount of times, shadow of the colossus-style. At least as far as controls go, though, Journey holds up. And surely there are some people out there personable enough to enjoy online play (it can be fun if you have the right person playing with you).

Overall, Journey is a game worth experiencing, and if you’d like to play through it a couple of times at least, it’s worth the $15. If you have a feeling you’re only going to play it once though, I recommend maybe just borrowing your friend’s. Ultimately, I can more-than-understand why this game won the awards it did. It’s good to see a video game with focus, and it’s always nice to play something simple and non-violent for once.

Group Portrait of  Journey (couldn’t help it)

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