Explore a vast desert to your heart’s content
Journey doesn’t ask for much. It doesn’t ask you to invest tens of hours customizing a character, learning new lore, or mastering deep gameplay mechanics. All it asks is that you keep an open mind, and that you’re willing to try something a little different.
Indeed, Journey is unlike any game you’ve played. In fact, considering its lack of failure conditions, it’s hardly a game at all. There is no story, voice acting, or combat in Journey. Aside from some light puzzles and platforming, there’s very little challenge. Journey is not a game about skill or overcoming obstacles. It’s about discovery and exploration.
Luckily, you’re given a hell of a world to explore. Journey is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. The rolling dunes and scorching sun make for a truly stunning desert environment with a great sense of scope. I’ll refrain from describing the game’s other environments in detail for fear of spoilers, but trust me, Journey is gorgeous.
It’s also an excellent audio experience. The orchestral score does a great job of emphasizing the flow of your adventure, but what really stands out is how Journey presents its music. It isn’t hidden behind dialog, gunfire or any other environmental sounds. Instead, Journey puts music in the limelight where it belongs, to great effect.
Gameplay in Journey is remarkably simple. You can move, jump, and chirp. As you progress, your mysterious cloaked character’s scarf will lengthen, which allows you to jump and glide further distances. Chirping allows you interact with objects and creatures in the world, which often recharge your scarf, allowing you to jump once more.
Chirping also acts as a basic means of communication for Journey’s unique online multiplayer. There are no lobbies, menus, or chat options in the multiplayer experience. Rather, another random nameless player that looks just like you will appear in your game to join you on your journey. Cooperation is encouraged, as standing near your partner will recharge your scarf. After the credits finish, you’ll see a list of all the players who entered your game.
Clocking in at roughly two hours, Journey is short, but appropriately so. There is no filler, and almost no repetition. Each area has a distinct feel, both from visual and gameplay perspectives. It’s best to treat Journey like you would a great movie that you might watch every year or two, rather than a traditional game that you might play once or twice and then move on.
The only problem I had with Journey is that it too frequently removes control from the player with immersion-breaking loading screens and needless cutscenes. The entire experience would have felt more cohesive had I not had to wait through a loading screen to enter a new area.
Journey certainly isn’t for everyone. Those looking for something challenging and immediately rewarding will likely find Journey boring and slow. But if you’re looking for something completely different and entirely artistic that focuses more on the experience and emotion than on the rewards, then look no further.
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