Review: Journey (PSN)

A vast and desolate desert appears before you. Small stone objects, which appear to be gravestones, litter the landscape. Suddenly, a bright light from the heavens comes crashing to earth. From this light a figure of small stature, dressed in a red cloak, arises. You begin to wander aimlessly in the desert until a small landmark on the horizon catches your attention.

With seemingly nowhere else to go, you make your way towards this place perched high atop a giant sand dune. You struggle your way to the top of the dune, sinking deep into the sand as you go, but you finally arrive at the summit. You now stand before a large marker of some-kind, possibly another one of these gravestone like objects, when suddenly the camera pans out across an endless sea of sand and then up towards a large mountain with a streaming beacon of light coming from it. The words “Journey” appears on screen over this beautiful scene.

Who are you and why are you heading toward this shining beacon on the horizon? You will have to begin your “journey” to uncover the story for yourself.

This is the opening to the newest PSN exclusive game, Journey, and I have to say that this game is beyond incredible. Journey comes from the makers of previous PSN exclusives such as flOw and Flower, thatgamecompany, and they have really outdone themselves this time. Journey moves beyond the realm of video games and into the world of art.

From the beautiful yet desolate desert you begin your journey in, through the depths of a serene yet dangerous ocean, up a freezing and windswept mountain, and finally to the bright and joyous final stage, every single area of the game is awe-inspiring and emotionally evocative. One moment in particular comes to mind: you are racing through the remains of an ancient city consumed by sand. The camera slowly transitions to a side-view, creating a 2d/3d perspective, all the while the sun is setting in the distance causing the sand you are surfing across to shimmer like nothing you have ever seen before. Words really can’t describe just how gorgeous this scene is; you just have to see it for yourself.

The short cut-scenes that serve to craft Journey’s story are extremely well done, and while giving you the basics of the story, it leaves room for your imagination to run wild. Ico & Shadow of the Colossus have shown us that sometimes less is more when it comes to a story, and Journey certainly proves this.

The game controls in a simple and minimalistic, yet very intuitive way, a perfect compliment to the game itself. Beyond being able to control your characters movements and the camera, you only have two buttons at your disposal. The “X” button allows you to take flight, the time of which can be lengthened by gathering various shining glyphs hidden throughout the game. The “O” button allows you to interact with your environment and communicate with other players. Yes, communicate. You see, Journey is an online enabled game and one, in my opinion, that does online play perfectly.

However, the online play is not like an MMO, where there are hundreds of other players running around. Instead, as you are wandering the beautiful yet lonely world of the game, you will occasionally see another solitary player (as long as you are signed into the PSN) off in the distance going about his or her own journey. The two of you can choose to wander together, or continue on your separate ways; multiplayer is the exception, not the rule. However, what is truly wonderful about Journey’s online play is that it is centered on the companionship, not any sort of competition. It’s about finally finding another living person in an expansive, lonely, yet beautiful world and being able to share this game’s wonders with another person.

The online play is also very unique in that there is no “party system”, voice chat/messaging, or anything like that at all. You can only “communicate” using your actions, and by using the small musical tone emitted when the “O” button is pressed. In fact, you are only told the name of your companion once you finished the game; a screen shortly after the credits tells you the name of the companions you encountered along your journey.

I cannot say enough good things about this wonderfully amazing game. I honestly feel like this is one of those rare games that words cannot do justice; it is a game that truly must be seen and experienced to be fully understood. I only hope that I have been able to express to you enough of this game’s wondrous quality that you feel like you want to play it yourself. Journey is available on PSN now, and believe you me; it is worth every penny.

Graphics 9.0
Journey’s graphics is a classic example of when less means more, ably sucking players into the tone and mood of the game
Sound 10.0
If there’s one word to describe the music of Journey, it’s “flawless”.
Gameplay 9.5
thatgamecompany can certainly add Journey alongside flOw and Flower as must-have PSN titles. You’d wonder when they might do full-fledged game.
Lasting Appeal 9.0
Journey is one of those typical game where one only spend one if not two play-throughs on it. But my word, these will be one of the best gaming experience yet.
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Journey is a PSN exclusive game by
thatgamecompany, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. A token was given to us by the publisher for the purpose of this review. We have also scored a neat interview with the game’s producer, Jenova Chen, that will be published tomorrow so stay tuned!

Aaron Yip

Aaron Yip is an industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience. When not spending time on his gaming PC and consoles, he can be found in Hyrule solving ungodly puzzles and collecting gems.