Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quick Review: Journey

Developed by: Thatgamecompany
Published by: Sony
Released: March, 2012 on PSN

Story: Good

After playing, i still don't really know what my journey was all about, but the word journey is correct for what transpired for the time spent in-game. There are cut-scenes, and there's a backstory, all told in silent animation, but perhaps the argument could be made for the game being a giant metaphor. Still, even though ambivalent about what transpired, i was engaged as the world and the gameplay told me more about the story than the cut-scenes needed to.

Mechanics: Good

The game is rather simple in its gameplay. Each section has you reaching a temple stone of sorts to guide you to the next area. Getting to the stone takes, floating with your magical scarf, and manipulating all the other fabric in the area to form bridges or to recharge your flying abilities. Secret glowing glyphs can be found which lengthen your scarf and the time you can spend in the air. Between sliding down sand dunes and flying around, there's a certain amount of joy given to such an apparently meaningful trek forward.

Aesthetics: Great

The use of colour and lighting as the game changes locations throughout this experience is breathtaking. The sand shimmers reflecting sunlight, and as the colour changes in future locations, so does the mood. As the game plays, the orchestral track seems to have an emergent quality, swelling bombastically or fading to a low hum depending on the significance of the immediate actions in relation to the story. There will be more than one time you'll find yourself marvelling at what's been presented for your eyes and ears as you play through.

Technology: Good

Part of the selling point of the game was the ability to have a meaningful cooperative experience. I really had no idea how that was going to play out, but after one section of the game with my nameless companion, i marvelled at the simplicity of how co-op was approached, but yet how meaningful it truly was (and it became later on in the game). The only way to communicate is in tones by pressing or holding down the square button, but that was more than enough as we worked together to find secrets, evade danger, and have fun. It'd be easy enough to play through the game offline, but i think that player would be doing themselves a disservice.

Overall: Good

Only taking two to three hours to complete, Journey's experience is a short one, but one well worth taking. Whether it's for the intriguing cooperative play, the presentation, or just the fun of flying and sliding your way around a desert, Journey gets a definite recommend.

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