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Game review: Journey

05 Mar 2012

Journey isn’t your normal game. And coming from the creator of Flower – a game where you control the gentle flight of a flower petal – this should be no surprise.

It’s a puzzle game where the solution isn’t as important as the riddle. It’s a platform game where the platforms bend down to you. It’s filled with dangerous and ominous monsters that can’t kill you. It’s a multiplayer game where you don’t know your companions until you complete the game.

In essence it’s art. You don’t play Journey, you experience it. 

There are certainly game elements in it: hidden secrets and power-ups, puzzles to unlock, and bad guys to hide from, all set inside a story of ancient civilisations. But none of that is as important as the journey itself. The ceaseless walking of your beautiful little monk will take up all of your thoughts.

At times the path is hard and arduous. Sand dunes stretch for endless miles to either side of you. Single stone markers point your way towards more stone markers and then ruins. Ribbons are everywhere and give you your power. They fly like fish (and in some cases whales) and give you the power of flight, albeit briefly.

Along the way you encounter other travellers. Called companions, you can talk to them using the singing call, but that’s it. You simply travel together and travel towards your final goal. Upon encountering my first companion I was surprised. Here was another monk, also surrounded by ribbon fish. We sang to each other for a time then travelled together. 

A long ‘snowboarding’ style level had us slaloming between each other and jumping joyfully from rocks and half-buried pathways. I left my companion in an underground chamber and set off alone for the next level.

You do not know who these other travellers are until you complete the game. There is no aiding the other and no competition, you simply experience the game together. It’s actually rather nice.

The game’s music and overall tone does lend itself to a restful experience. And even though overall the game is very short, by the end you do feel empathy to your character as they climb the last few steps towards the top of the mountain.

Pushing ever onwards to enlightenment. 

Graphics: 8

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 9

Lasting appeal: 3

Overall: 9

Played on PS3