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The Experience I Had With Journey Is One I’ll Never Forget
Thanks to Santa, I managed to obtain a PS3 for Christmas this year and finally sat down to find out exactly what it is about Thatgamecompany’s Journey that made it so special.
And wow, have I been missing out.
There are a lot of people who have been down on Journey since its release, calling it overrated and undeserving of the praise it’s received. Those people could not be more wrong.
After sitting down and experiencing firsthand the wonder and fantasy that is Journey, I’m confident in saying it’s one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had in a game.
There’s something to be said about the minimalist style of gameplay in Journey. With only the ability to move, jump, and chirp, the game drops you in the middle of a desert and fixates you on your ultimate goal; a mountain far off in the distance with a beam of light eminating from its peak.
From there, it’s up to you. There is no direction, no UI, no mission log to tell you what to do next. The complexity of Journey is hidden in its subtleties, and the one thing it does masterfully is leaves you to learn about its living world strictly by exploring and interacting with it.
I haven’t felt wonder of this caliber in a game for a long, long time. I have no idea what anything in this world is called, where it came from, or what it is. I only know what it does and how it’s important to my overall goal of reaching the mountain. Learning what these things do and why I need them is truly what makes the experience unique and enchanting in many ways.
Interacting with other players in Journey feels more organic and sincere than the myriad multiplayer games you’ll encounter on any platform today. With only the ability to chirp at my partner, I found myself assuming a meaning to the dialogue I spoke with other players. In my mind, we commented on the trek, helped each other find the way, and warned of dangers ahead.
But the most amazing part of Journey is the individualism of it. Truly, the story the game tells is completely your own. Mine was a tale of loneliness, compassion, loyalty, and ultimately, hope. I felt a true sense of desperation whenever I lost sight of my friend in the game. Where did they go? Would they find their way? Could I make it without them?
In the past, I’ve only been concerned with defeating other players in an online experience, be it something Call of Duty-esque or even the cooperative shootfest that is Borderlands. But here, in this game, I suddenly grew compassionate and found myself wanting to work with others, wanting to share in the overall experience with another traveler. It’s a cooperative experience unparalleled by any other game.
But the overall sense of hope I felt was the most compelling part of the entire game. Throughout my personal journey toward the mountain, things got bad. I was attacked by enemies, lost a majority of my scarf, my companions disappeared, and I ultimately was left to finish the journey on my own.
But any time things got hard in the game, I only had to look up and see the mountain looming in the distance, growing closer with each step I took. It was enough to give me an undying sense of hope, an incentive that continually drove me forward, no matter the cost.
There are many things to love about Journey; its gorgeous aesthetic, its well-realized world brimming with a life all its own, its seamless ability to both teach you and encourage you to explore, and even its gorgeous and airy soundtrack and interesting cutscenes.
But its the story of hope the game told and the chance I had to engage in my own personal and emotional journey over the two hours that I played that mattered most to me. And it’s an experience I’ll never forget.