Never has a game been hyped as much as Journey. Journey is the victim of so much fan art and the title is synonymous with adjectives like beautiful, magical, emotional, gorgeous, the list goes on and on. I have always been aware of the game, it has really upheld its reputation since its release in 2012. Despite this, I have never played Journey. Great job to PlayStation Plus for forcing me to finally play the thing.
The aim of the game is, get from point A, a sand dune in some remote desert, to point B, the top of a light beam emitting mountain. And you gotta do that in the most boring way possible. The player is required to push the analog stick forward for 98% of the game. It’s hard for me to even call it a game, as there are no challenges, little interaction with the world. It Journey an experience? Sure.
Sliding down sand dunes is fun, though it’s not like that exhilarating motion hasn’t been done before. I mean, just throw on SSX if you wanna slide down some mountains. There’s one specific slide that lasts for five minutes or so, which is absolutely stunning, my eyes almost melted when it happened. But you’ve probably seen it already because it’s the one same shot that’s in all the promos. There are a few other great looking shots that will stick with you, but that’s not enough.
The locations for, the most part, are dull and completely lifeless. However, the game gets more interesting about half way in, when new locations with different weather dynamics are introduced to you.
Journey is very short, but that’s a good thing because if it was any longer it would be so tedious. The two hour game is already massively padded out with a ton of art interludes and fading to white. As I was playing, I started to realise the title is Journey because there is literally no point to the game (you could argue that there are some ambiguous references to brief outlines of a backstory.) But when the finale arrived all my negative thought disappeared and it didn’t seem to matter anymore.
In the last stage, there is so much beauty and grace to the movement of the character when he/she is flowing from one magic carpet to the next as the music swells, and it is honestly one of the greatest playable endings to any game I’ve ever played. It’s a total feast for the eyes and ears. But that doesn’t make the whole game great. It’s like in movies, a film with a twist ending can totally fool people in to thinking the movie is a masterpiece (a good example of that – Inception.)
People call this one of the greatest gaming experiences of their lives. They call it a masterpiece, they call it emotional. I just did not get that feeling. I didn’t feel any child like wonder, and I did not feel any connection to the 2nd player that kept popping in and out. Maybe it’s because the 2nd player fucked off when we arrived at the beautiful maximalist ending. Maybe I would have understood if we shared that moment together.
Maybe I am an emotionless, soulless vessel of human life. Or maybe, just maybe, Journey is overrated and would make a better screensaver than a game. The controls for this game are the left analog stick, X, and circle. That’s it. Journey could have literally been a SEGA Genesis game. And maybe it should have been, it definitely feels like a game made from an earlier era. Being honest, even for what it is, a two hour long low budget game, it still feels a little underdeveloped.