Even if you would really try to, you won’t be able to compare Journey with anything else. This is the game based on those things that we always try to keep deep in ourselves, things that we often underestimate and things that are really important for us. Life is nothing else but a journey – an amazing journey with its complications and obstacles, unexpected turnarounds and strangers, ups and downs. But as long as we move forward and keep getting closer to our aim – life is worth living. And all the problems, troubles and falls turn into valuable lessons that rather sooner than later become life lessons.
Journey is a game-emotion. I am not sure if there’s such a term but if not – from now on it exists. An interactive story told without a word but with the deepest and sincerest sounds of music that flow through the whole story and follow your every step. If there’s anything remotely alike the Journey, this can only be the previous project of Jenova Chen and his team Thatgamecompany that goes under the name “Flower”. This is another deep and emotional game where you play as wind and fly in clouds or play with flowers bringing the esthetical satisfaction to your eyes and your heart.
For someone Journey will be a philosophical but silent parable telling a story about the world around, life as it is – hard and unpredictable and that the most important thing is to have an aim and go for it. For others it will be a picturesque moving painting of a little stranger who lives in a world of surprises and where everything is a lot bigger than himself. And the third ones will consider it as a waste of time and money. But, I am pretty sure that you are one of those emotionless guys paying no attention for things that are really important.
Our little hero from Journey is a no name stranger and looks like one of those cahracters from Hayao Miyazaki’s paintings. He is an unordinary creature with black face, short legs and no arms. Probably, this is not the best description of him but it is really hard to tell something else – you need to see it yourself. He also wears a long cloak and floats like a feather when being on the road to his aim. His task is not simple even though it seems to be one: he needs to cross the desert and get to the mountain that from time to time appears on the horizon and calls for his visit.
Frankly speaking, I am not even sure if it’s possible to describe the world around: as well as your character, this is a strange place with its own surrealistic laws that can’t be applied in our world. The desert you travel in seems to be more like an ocean with its own citizens and surprises. Very often Stranger takes off and flows in the air like this is the only important thing in the world and nothing else matters at the moment. After a couple of moment you start to understand that the world itself has been inspired by the sea creatures and you can’t but notice rays, algal and thin stripes that look a lot like small fish runs. In the world of Journey almost anything consists of those small stripes and the main hero also has one – his magic scarf. This scarf gives him power to get up high in the sky and flow like a bird despite all the gravity rules. You can also make your scarf longer by gathering special signs scattered all over the level. Not only it brings you esthetical satisfaction but also gives a possibility to flow longer and enjoy the view better. From time to time you will leave the unreal world of deserts and will come to the subconscious world of dreams where someone will be drawing your destiny. It creates a strange feeling of helplessness, especially when you can see what is going on but you actually can’t change anything.
Stranger has no arms but he has the voice and this is, probably, the only way of communication between him and the world around. He speaks with different creatures and even strangers like him. In this way he shares the energy while they share their energy with him instead. All the sounds he reproduces only with a single button hit awake the creatures who’ve been sleeping for ages, make them change their being and even throw the hero up in the air from where he can float and get closer to the aim.
Technically, Journey is an online game. From time to time you will meet other strangers following their own route. Some of them will continue going without stopping, but other will kindly stop to help you out and share a drop of their energy to get a drop of yours instead. But you won’t see any nicknames above the other players, nor will you have a chance to talk with them. The only way of communication is your character that either joins the stranger and travels with him or chooses to stay aside and continue going on his own. It doesn’t really matter if you play alone or with someone else – you will still reach the mountain. But in the mystery world like this it’s kind of strange and exciting at the same time to have another stranger nearby. You do not know each other, you can’t give any commands but you can communicate using a strange language that no one knows or understands. Though, it leaves things just as they are – unique and special. All your contacts will remain private until the credits’ role. Only then you will be offered to see who’s been with you all this time or who wanted to become a bit more than a stranger for you.
If Thatgamecompany is not an empty word for you, you will agree with me saying that all their games are built on emotions. Jenova Chen with his creative team does his best to make you forget about all the troubles in the world with all the mass and unspeakable violence and offers you a journey to the warmest place in the world – your heart. If you are ready to see the true yourself, it means that you are ready for the Journey.
When playing Journey it is really hard not to mention their previous project called Flower. Even despite the fact that both games are totally different in all the possible meanings, they have something big in common and this something is called “Emotions.” You start your game on the fields, playing with flowers and running freely whenever you want. You feel being a Creator! But soon you appear in the cruel world of metal, concrete and noise where the industrial part of this world continues its gray existence. Mud and darkness are everywhere and this unbelievable change makes you feel shocked. But, as always, at the very end you find the way to change everything and see the morning sun…
Like its precursor, Journey brings an amazing portion of emotions: child’s happiness, the simplest sympathy to the stranger walking nearby, excitement and scare in the dark caves and the incredible euphoria at the very end of the game when you finally reach your destination. Journey is the game that can’t be played technically – it can be played and controlled only with your emotions. This three hour journey will probably change your looks on life and I assure you that if you play it right – you would like this journey to last forever.