COME ON A JOURNEY WITH ME
When I downloaded Journey, I went in thinking I wasn’t going to like it. Shockingly, it was not about the creators of “Don’t Stop Believin'”. Journey is a fresh breath into modern gaming and took me along for an amazing adventure. This game has been critically acclaimed and loved by many people on the internet and for good reason. It’s amazing how much stock you can put into a game that is just about jumping, flying, and freeing magic carpets. Let’s head right into it and take a look at the positive aspects of Journey.
I honestly need to talk about the graphics first because MY GOD THE GRAPHICS. Absolutely stunning visuals, some of the best I have seen for the PS4. It made me think again for games I thought had good graphics.
I try not to put too much stock in the graphics of a game, being in the camp that good story can make up for not so good graphics, but I found myself being completely lost in the atmosphere, sometimes setting down the controller just to take it all in. The way the sun reflects off the sand, the way the sand particles react and bounce off of your character, the way the wind whips at your cloak as you move. It’s all so immersive and really draws you in. I have never played a game that drew me in the same way that Journey drew me in. I was so drawn into the world that when it had a jump scare about midway through, it made me physically jump and rip off my headphones.
While I am on the topic of immersion, I need to take a paragraph to talk about the water level of this game. Around midway through, you get to this “underwater” zone. You do not actually go underwater, but the level is designed to make it feel like you are on the ocean floor. The carpets become kelp forests and jellyfish. There is this otherworldy blue hue to everything. You can “swim” through the air by going from kelp to kelp.
I just had to take a minute to gush about how much I loved this area. I actually took a solid five minutes just flying around and looking at the environment. I was so impressed and drawn in that I didn’t want to advance to the next place. There was something so peaceful and serene to this area. It might have been my favorite area of any game I’ve played in the last five years. Maybe even ever.
The next good thing about this game is its lack of a story. And I know how weird that may sound but bear with me. The entire purpose of the game is that its about the Journey instead of the destination. Your character wakes up, you look at a mountain in the distance and you go to that mountain. That’s all the story you get (until later anyway).
As you progress through the game, you get more backstory through this godly white figure that you see as you progress towards the mountain. The story is kind of cryptic if you do not pay attention, but it seems to detail the lives of these cloak wearing figures and where they all went.
You work your way from a desert area, to the underwater world, to the snowy base of the mountain, to your own death it appears, to shooting up the mountain at very fast speed.
When you are in the desert, you really feel the heat of the world and the slow movement up the sand dunes. When you are crawling up the mountain, you feel the winds pushing you back and the snow crushing down on you. You can really feel the rush of adrenaline when you are finally flying towards your destination. This again speaks to how immersive this game was.
The controls for this game are the next thing I want to talk about. It is so simple to pick up and play. Press “X” to jump, hold “X” to fly, “O” to call out and activate things in the environment, and D-Pad to move. That’s it. Anyone could pick this up and make it all the way to the end. It is very user friendly to everyone. The puzzles are not that challenging, there is one enemy in the game, and there are multiple ways to get past certain areas. You can also get power ups to increase the length of your scarf and the length that you can fly. It really does live up to the Journey aspect of the game. It’s all about enjoying the journey rather than overcoming obstacles.
Another pretty interesting thing is the multiplayer. You cannot, to my knowledge, actually pick and choose who you play with. You are randomly placed with other people playing Journey in the same game area as you. They also drop in and drop out throughout the game. I believed that I was playing with the same guy the whole time, but the reality was that I ended up playing with a number of people. I absolutely love this, especially in the scenario of this game. The idea that you are traveling along on this journey and randomly meet others along the “road” of the game makes me very happy.
I could honestly talk all day about how much I loved this game. But, like all games, there are things wrong with it (although very few).
THE NOT SO GOOD
The game kind of plays itself. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed having the time to sit back and take in the environment. But there were some sections, especially the sand surfing areas, where I felt like I wasn’t playing a game. And if I wanted to watch a movie, then I would just watch a movie.
There’s not many things I found wrong with this game. I am kind of drawing at straws even as I am writing now. BUT there is one big thing that I kind of found wrong with it.
I don’t think I would even call this a game. It kind of pains me to say it but I wouldn’t say that it checks all the boxes of being a game, looking back on it now. While I was playing it, I was super invested and into the atmosphere and environment. But after playing it, I didn’t feel happy or fulfilled. When I beat Dark Souls, I felt fulfilled. When I beat another team in Madden, I feel fulfilled. When I beat Journey, all I thought was “That was fun.” And don’t take it the wrong way. I adored the atmosphere. I liked the controls. I loved the drop in, drop out multiplayer. But I never felt like I was in danger of dying. And since I never died, I don’t even know if there is any consequence of death. There story was barebones and thin at best and not necessary at worst.
Let me put it like this. If this was just a movie that I sat back and watched I would’ve gave it very high scores, 8/10 or 9/10. But the fact that this wasn’t really a game kind of skews how to look at it. It wasn’t a BAD game because I wouldn’t call it a game. When I turned it on, I was expecting certain things to be present when I picked up my controller. And I loved that none of those things were there. But it makes it hard to grade. All I can say is that you NEED to check out this game for yourself (IT’S FREE FOR PS+ GO GET IT). It changed how I look at games and what I would qualify as a good game.