“I woke up as a hooded traveler, alone, in the scorching desert. I didn’t have a clue as to what I had to do. There was a mountain looming in the backdrop. My patience started wearing out as I tardily moved towards the point of interest, feeling the sand with each step I took. I took the dry desert in and I could feel my throat getting parched. I was not used to this. As alone as ever I walked through what looked like stone-posts, I sand-surfed to old ruins seeking for something, anything!
And then I saw, a pale white glow against the yellow sand dunes, to the right of my screen and I turned to find another hooded traveler. It had weird pulsating ciphers on top of its head and it seemed to beckon me. I responding by doing the same, pressing the O button and we were chirping to each other and it felt like the most meaningful conversation I’d ever had. We started wandering through the desert to the abandoned ruins and forward. My fellow traveller helped me find luminous symbols that added glowing pieces to my flowing scarf that let me glide. Together we flew to the top of the ruins and when I fumbled down a ledge my companion helped me glide up producing a musical note.
We went through an underground passage to the next area. Clearly having gone through this area my companion beckoned me to follow him/her through a safe passage and not knowing what was in store for me I ignored and glided through and for the first time I genuinely felt scared as my fellow traveller abandoned me when I was attacked by a monstrous abomination. Upon recovering I quickly followed his footsteps to safety. But my companion was nowhere to be found, I felt alone again and started wandering only to listen to someone’s musical notes beside me. Another companion, was it the same one? I did not know and frankly I did not care. We continued to our destination, the snow filled summit and clumsily I fell down a ledge (yet again) and the way back to top was not so easy. I could hear my companion calling out to me via musical notes, helplessly I looked up and thought he’d be on his/her way to the end by the time I reached there. I began climbing through the turbulent mountain, my scarf frozen in the snow, alone but there he/she was…waiting for me. Never had I been so glad to see another traveler. We were close to the end of our travel and inadvertently close to our own. The snowy winds made us handicapped, we could not soar anymore and with great effort we began bumbling towards the end of the road until we couldn’t do it anymore. My ‘friend’ was the first to collapse soon followed by me, everything faded off to all white.
When I woke up I found myself at the top of the summit, yes atop the same mountain in the backdrop and with me was my companion/friend. It was a beautiful sight to behold, there were cloth-creatures that we’d freed everywhere gliding in their own muses. Excited, we wallowed together, to the highest peak accompanied by melodic tunes. We stood there for some time taking it all in before heading towards the white light. My fellow companion chirped one last time. Good Bye, maybe?”
I know its been a year since its release and I also know that every PS3 owner out there would already own a copy by now. I know now, the reason why this little piece of coding, digital art and music is considered to be one of the best ever in game making. I was skeptic as to why this game grabbed last years’ GOTY awards. Upon playing it, I know why it sits cozily in my beloved games of all time list.
Journey comes from thatgamecompany, the same developers behind the equally enjoyable flOw and flower. Built on the Phyre Engine, Journey is relentlessly beautiful and stating just that would be a severe understatement. The visuals of the game is minimal but it has the power to immerse you in levels beyond imagination and its more than just stunning. Trust me you will be amazed at how splendidly the visuals works your emotions. I was in a constant state of awe throughout the game. The first time I played through I wasn’t totally convinced by the cutscenes but it all made sense the second time.
You start off in a desert completely alone figuring out things for yourself. You could choose to complete the game so but what makes it fun is when you stumble onto another traveler. That’s where the ingenuity cuts in. Its a completely anonymous and seamless multiplayer experience. No names, no labels, you won’t know who the other traveler is and initially I’d thought it was an ai controlled NPC. But to my surprise it was not and through my multiple playthrough experiences me and the other travelers have had loads of meaningful conversation through those chirps and shared the adventure together. Its a great innovation and more than that a great change from the abuse-spewing, cuss-laden chats we’ve had over any Shooter/MMORPG game. It could prove to be a burden when another player tags along too. For example: when I was on a trophy hunt in-game, I couldn’t help but tag along the traveler that came along and in the process abandoning my trophy hunt.
Austin Wintory’s spellbinding music makes perfect sync with the visuals. I could sleep like a baby listening to the track Nascent. You have to give into the music that makes it such an emotional experience. You feel the loneliness stranded on the desert, you will definitely feel the terror during the underground passage and towards the end you feel the excitement while soaring to the top of the summit; owe it all to Wintory’s eclectic compositions. Sound design as well was top notch and its evident from the very first time you walk through sand, you can hear each sand speck brushing against your feet, you will listen to the soft breeze that flutters your scarf. Absolutely brilliant.
Journey is not just a game, its pure art, its a virtuous immersion, its the perfect blend of engrossing storytelling, beautiful visuals, ingenious coding fueled with entrancing music. More than a game, its an emotional investment that’s worth every minute you spend in-game. Clocked barely at 2 hours its a short and sweet journey that you’ll be yearning to take it more than once.
PS: There’s not one bad thing I can say about this one!