Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 265: Journey (Again)

You may or may not remember my lengthy post about my 20 minute preview of the game Journey from last year. It was full of flowery words and lots of praise about why Journey was my number one most anticipated game for this year. Well the full game finally came out almost three weeks ago and I just played it today. The reason it took me so long was because for games like this I prefer to wait to start until I know I can give it my undivided attention for at least a couple of hours. With Journey I wanted to have the house to myself long enough to play it through in its entirety (which ended up being about 2 hours).

Now onto the game.

I've started this "review" three times now and deleted several hundred words worth. It's hard to write about the mechanics of the game without in some way taking away from the things that I found amazing about it. The gameplay is simple and well developed, but at its heart this game is about creating an emotional journey for the player as you lead your character on a literal one. The sense of isolation, even when paired with another player, is immense. I've said it many times, but it really reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus which is one of my favorite games of all time.

Of course in the game you're not alone. A major part of the emotional journey is sharing it with the random companion you are paired with. It's strange how connected you can feel to a perfect stranger when you can't talk to them and don't even know their name. It makes communication more difficult in some ways, but in the end you feel an attachment to this person because you're in this adventure together with literally no one else to help you see it through. While the game does make you feel isolated, you don't ever feel alone, and that is incredibly comforting, especially in the end.

When I finally completed the last long struggle with my companion it was sad and exciting and sort of unbelievable all at once. I don't want to get into plot details, but there was a real sense of "if you can't make it, I'm not going to make it" about the whole thing. That's not a gameplay feature, you can absolutely make it on your own, but by the end you don't want to.

I feel like I want to say so many things about my one brief play-through, but my words seem inadequate to capture the feeling of the game. It's really something you have to experience to understand. I realize this is not a game for everyone, but the people that get it will love it.

The levels, characters and mechanics are simplistic, but beautiful; the music is beyond amazing. These things make the game worth playing but it's the emotion thatgamecompany was able to tap into that make it more than memorable. I don't know how many times I'll revist Journey but I do know I'll never forget my first.

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