I’ve been playing video games for a long time. It all started with Super Mario Bros. in 1996 when my mother found my sister and me a second-hand Nintendo Entertainment System in the classified listings of the weekly paper. Mario has stood the test of time, but video games (and my video game preferences) have dramatically evolved since then. Looking back at the games that I’ve experienced, three of them stand out. These games mean a lot to me, so I’m giving them each their own post! Contrary to other published lists like these I’m going to start with my number one favorite game, Journey.
Journey is beautiful, haunting, a touch confusing and mesmerizingly fun. As much as I profess my love for this game now, it took me two playthroughs to get there. I was incredibly disappointed with my first playthrough. The lack of dialogue made it hard for me to grasp the story beats within the game, which is why I include ‘confusing’ when I describe this game. Now, after countless hours of sand-surfing and glyph-collecting, I proudly answer the question at hand with this game. Let me tell you why:
Journey is a stunningly beautiful game.
The moment I laid eyes on my red caped and hooded character I was smitten. She (I'm assuming?) is a mysterious and faceless being, yet elegant in every move my controller conveys. Sliding down the dunes of the first level was incredibly rewarding. It's just so...beautiful; simple, yet truly enjoyable. I could spend all my time just surfing the sand in this game. I think that's why the third level is my favorite. Oh, and the hallway in the fifth stage steals my breath every time. It's just SO pretty.
Journey has an ambiguous yet striking message.
The story is the part of Journey that took me the longest to understand. There are no spoken words, and hieroglyphic cut scenes are the only visual representations of a story that are present. Every level ends with a cut scene that shows you a little bit more of what happened to this land and why there are stones sticking up out of the sand everywhere. The story I have gathered form Journey is one of a civilization analogous to ours, but you may see it quite differently. In the end, I rather enjoy the ambiguity of it.
The multiplayer implementation is delightful.
“The goal was to create a game where people felt they are connected with each other, to show the positive side of humanity in them.” – Jehova Chen, ThatGameCompany to Gamasutra
Although there is no dialogue present, there is communication. Multiplayer occurrences are random and completely anonymous (until the end!). You can "speak" to each other through a series of chirps. Although you won't be coherently conversing, you can usually get your point across just fine. I found that my companions chirped at me when trying to show me secrets they found or charge our scarves. The scarf has become a characteristic feature of this game, and allows you to traverse the desert by flight instead of on foot. Also, physically interacting with a companion charges both players' scarves. I love the multiplayer implementation in Journey. I could only judge players when they came into my game by what they did and how they interacted with me. I haven't met a companion I haven't liked! Many of them are on my friends list now. These mechanics encourage affection and cooperation, and those are two of my favorite things.
For all of these reasons, Journey has provided me with the best video game experience I have ever had. It saddens me to think that Journey isn't available to everyone. A PC port would be stellar, but I'm pretty sure Sony has made it quite clear that Journey will remain a PlayStation exclusive. So if you are a PS3 owner, try this game. If you’ve recently made the transition from Xbox to PlayStation, you can look for a PS4 version to be released in the coming months. If you aren’t a PlayStation owner and are still interested in experiencing this game, try a Let's Play! I know I will be Twitch streaming Journey from my PS4 as soon as it is released.
Have you played Journey? Did you love it like me, hate it or feel indifferent? Sound off below for some stimulating conversation!