Most of the modern video games aim to draw their audience by offering them realistic graphics, flashy action sequences, engaging story, likable characters, etc. Still, since most of the developers usually stick to the same recipe, the modern games often contain things that we as the audience already saw numerous times, and little by little, players are repelled by the same taste of differently colored “cakes” they serve to us over and over again… Thankfully, this is not always the case, as every now and again a rare delightful game emerges, offering players something truly different, unique, and memorable. One such game is Journey.
Journey was developed by Thatgamecompany, an independent game studio founded in 2006. This game developer is known for creating games that are simply said – the form of art. Unlike many others that value flashy action sequences and realistic, jaw-dropping graphics above all else, Thatgamecompany aims to create games that will make players experience an emotional rollercoaster while presenting them the artistic beauty that transcends the boundaries of age, culture, or background.
Journey was published back in 2012 on Playstation 3. It was ported to Playstation 4 in 2015 and also released on PC on June 2019. Now, more than 7 years since its initial release, Journey is available on iOS as well.
While most of the games that are heavily focused on the story shine their spotlight over interesting dialogues, shocking plot twists, or engaging characters, Journey does none of that. There are no dialogues in the game, and the entire story is presented to the players in a visual way. Shortly after starting the game, you will find yourself in the role of a cloaked figure in the middle of a vast desert, observing a large mountain in the distance. The mountain is shown to have a glowing crevice splitting its peak and radiating light far into the sky. From the get-go, players will know that they need to reach the mountaintop and thus, the Journey begins.
During the course of the game, you will get to explore the ruins of a long-lost civilization, now almost entirely covered in sand. Along the way, you’ll experience visions of meeting a large, white-robed figure inside the circular room full of murals describing the events that happened and also those that are yet to happen. Without delving into spoiler territory, it is safe to say that the story of Journey is one of the best and most unique stories you’ll ever experience in a video game.
As for the gameplay, Journey has quite simple and minimalistic controls. You can move around, jump, and also emit a wordless shout that has various effects. Player character wears a magical scarf which can temporarily grant you the ability to fly. Doing so will consume the scarf’s magical energy which can be recharged simply by walking. While exploring, you’ll occasionally find glowing symbols that will extend the length of your scarf. This will allow you to stay airborne longer. Other than that, during certain levels, you’ll be able to slide through the sand, which feels really satisfying.
While playing, you can also encounter other players. Since there is no chat function in Journey, the only way you’ll get to interact with them is by using your shout. Also, the other players cannot affect you in any negative way, so there is no grieving nor trolling in this game.
Other than that, the level design is phenomenal. While you will progress through the levels in a linear way, you’ll have the complete freedom of exploring the areas to your heart’s content. There are a lot of secrets scattered throughout the game, and if you manage to find them all, you will be given a special reward, which will further motivate you to explore and discover everything this majestic game has to offer.
Still, it is worth mentioning that unlike the Playstation version, the iOS port isn’t as smooth. The controls can get glitchy sometimes, and the camera can be quite messy at times. However, since the game was released on iOS quite recently, the developers will hopefully patch things up and fix these things in one of the future updates.
This is, by far, the best aspect of Journey. The feeling you get while playing the game cannot simply be described with words. The vastness of the levels will amaze you at times, and the feeling of satisfaction, while flying or sliding through the sand, is just amazing. To top things off, the sound effects and music are masterfully done. These fit into the game perfectly, and will positively impact your gameplay experience.
You will also experience a wide variety of emotions while playing Journey. These will range from happiness, joy, and thrill, to anxiety, sadness, and even despair at times. Each area has a certain vibe to it, and the developers did an amazing job of connecting each area to some of these emotions. It is hard to describe it with words, especially without delving into spoiler territory, and you really need to experience it yourself to understand it.
While at first glance Journey’s graphics may look quite simplistic, there’s much more than meets the eye. The art style is really amazing, and kudos to the art development team. The game is really a sight for sore eyes, and you’ll enjoy looking at the vast landscapes with a shiny mounting standing out in the distance. The ruins you come across while exploring are also very well done and fit perfectly within the game world. And even though the game was initially released more than 7 years ago, it aged pretty well, and it is still as beautiful as back then.
All things considered, Journey is a wonderful game that will keep you immersed in its world from the get-go. It truly is a work of art, and everyone should experience it at least once. One thing that is also worth mentioning is that currently, Journey costs 4.99 USD, which is pretty decent bang for your buck considering the fact that your first playthrough will take approximately three hours. When you factor in that Journey has an amazing replay-value, it is definitely worth buying. All in all, try it out, you certainly won’t regret it.