I have plenty of new games I could be reviewing, but instead I want to take a moment to talk about Journey. Mostly, I want to talk about Journey because it segues into the next review I want to do, but also because I’d never played it before, and it was just so stinkin’ good!
I’ve been getting burned by indie titles a lot recently, which sucks. Sucks even more so because normally I’d say I’m all about artsy, indie titles. However, I’ve been playing so many flops that I’ve gotten a little trigger-shy. All that is to say, I kind of wanted to play Abzu, but I was also terrified of buying it only to find out I didn’t like it. Sure, it’s come pretty highly recommended, but so were the other games I’ve been playing. Basically, word-of-mouth and reviews have failed me! Which is just so rude. But I digress.
So yeah, I wanted to play Abzu, but I was also terrified to commit to that idea. At which point I remembered, “Hey, I own Journey! I’ve never played Journey, but Abzu is supposed to be similar. I’ll play Journey, and if I like it, I’ll continue on to play Abzu.”
That deal made with myself, I loaded up Journey, full of trepidation and a readiness for disappointment. I’d heard so many good things, what if I’d built it up in my head? It couldn’t possibly live up to expectations, right? Also, what if, disappointingly enough, I’d just changed? What if something in me had snapped, and I didn’t like artsy, indie titles anymore? I didn’t think I could stomach that thought. I didn’t want to be that person!
So, spoiler alert, but crisis avoided! Turns out the other games I’d been playing really had just been over-hyped and under-performing. Journey blew my socks off, you guys! Or it would have if I made a habit of wearing socks when the weather is like ninety degrees outside. It blew my metaphorical socks off. So, with all that said, onward to actual impressions of the game!
I’m not going to go on about the look of it. It looks nice, there’s no denying that, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t the important part. Though definitely the settings are gorgeous and help in building the narrative. So while I don’t personally care about the graphics, the settings blew me away more and more as the game progressed.
When it comes to multi-player, I’m usually not a fan. I don’t know what has happened in adulthood to turn me off of online multi-player considering I used love MMO’s as a teenager, but at some point the idea of randomly encountering another player who could judge my skill level became a recipe for anxiety for me. All that is to say, I was super nervous about the multi-player aspect of Journey. However, I think they got the formula down perfectly! My first time encountering another player, I was a little nervous, then kind of excited, then kind of sad when they were gone. It only lasted a second though, so I moved on fairly quickly. The next time, though, I spent much longer with the person (at least I assume it was the same person, though I guess there’s really no way to actually know). We helped each other, encouraged each other (as much as voiceless, little sprites can). Somehow, without ever actually speaking to each other, I felt a kinship with this person. Then they were gone, and I was very sad. From that point on, running into people was an emotional roller-coaster comprised of excitement over a new friend and the inevitable disappointment of losing them. Honestly, while playing alone in no way detracts from the game, the implementation of the multi-player adds to the experience exponentially.
There’s not a whole lot I can actually say about the story mostly just because I’m not 100% sure just what exactly it was about. That’s not a bad thing, at all. With the lack of any dialogue, it’s honestly meant for interpretation to some extent. Of course, I have theories, but I don’t want to go into that here. Spoiler-free is really the way to be when going into these games. What I will say is that despite the silence, this is a story that truly touched me. I cried and I cheered, and honestly I just felt like this was one of the realest emotional journeys I’d ever gone on with… well, with any media. At no time does the story feel incomplete or lacking for it’s non-use of dialogue.
Adding to that feel is a soundtrack that seamlessly blends into the game. None of the music ever stood out in my mind simply because it integrates so well with the game-play and story. Never once did the music over-power anything or seem at odds with a scene. It was simply there to offer support to the emotional resonance.
Basically, all-in-all, Journey to me seems to be a game that stands the test of time. It’s been four years since its initial release, and yet even still remains a game that simply blew me away despite even my jaded attitude going in. I also really don’t think I’d mind giving it another play-through, which says something considering a lack of replayability tends to be a problem I often feel many artsy, indie titles (and even plenty of AAA games) suffer from. I’m sure not much would change, but I feel like there would definitely be more to discover in the world. Plus it’s just an amazing journey (I do not apologize for the pun). If you haven’t played it, I cannot recommend this game enough. It’s only a few hours long, and now is definitely the time to pick it up, even if just for a rainy day, since it is currently one of the free games on PlayStation Plus this month!