Journey, the award-winning indie game developed by Thatgamecompany, has been praised by thousands since its debut in 2012. I’ve only ever heard great things about it so I picked it up cheap for Playstation 4 during Black Friday – and this is going to be quite a short blog because, quite frankly, there’s not much to say about Journey.
So let me get the positive stuff out of the way first. Journey looks beautiful. The art style is spectacular. I particularly like how the sandy and snowy environment responds to your movements. I admire how your scarf flaps in the breeze. I also enjoyed that if you stand still and rotate the camera the Pilgrim will look around. These are all accomplishments that cannot be argued with.
And that’s the end of my list of compliments.
Truth be told, I don’t hate Journey… But I didn’t enjoy it either. Without a doubt, all of the hype is to blame. I expected Journey to flip the definition of gaming on its head. I expected a deeply emotional story thwart with danger, risk and sacrifices. I expected to get lost in the landscape listening to the soundtrack.
And after playing Journey in one sitting I can’t confess to experiencing any of that. As I write this I can’t recall the music or how it ebbed and flowed depending on what I was doing. The story is almost non-existent; I was progressing from one hieroglyph cut-scene to the next wondering what I’m supposed to be learning from the prehistoric slideshow. I also found the involvement of other players quite intrusive. As far as I can tell there was very little reason to cooperate with the Stranger – Or have I accidentally skipped an entire section of the game?
Journey Story Curve
Which brings me onto my next point, a point you have heard so many times you have lost count – is Journey really a game?
It most definitely is but it’s a terrible game to play. I’ve read numerous times online how someone has introduced their friend to videogames using Journey as a stepping stone but it’s a shit example because it has fewer game mechanics and rules to abide by than Pong does.
It’s a strange one because it actually starts off as a puzzle-platformer. In the first level you learn to jump/float, you discover that collecting glowing symbols will make your scarf grow, and by interacting with the environment you will eventually gain access to the next level. The problem is Journey slowly takes all the interaction away from you. Instead of introducing more challenges and game mechanics it actually does the opposite and reduces the game to holding the thumbstick forward. It eventually becomes an animated wallpaper and reaching the end is a chore.
Would I recommend Journey? Yes. I would love to know what other people thought about Journey.
Don’t Stop Believing is highly recommended!
Are you required to play it? Hell no. As far as I’m concerned it’s overrated. There are better things you could be doing for 2 hours.
Would I replay it? Sure. It’s short and I own it now. It’ll be worth a revisit one day. Maybe it’ll change my mind.
Want to retaliate? Post a comment. I lament once a week but you can follow me on Twitter @LeeLaments where I moan every day.