If I have to describe Journey with one word it would be emotional. I just finished playing Journey (10 mins ago) and I really wanted to write about it. I’m still feeling the ending and all that great stuff so this post might be a little more emotional than previous posts.
Journey is a game created by the company ThatGameCompany. The game starts the player off at a desert where the player is only given the hint of what the controls are. After about 5-10 minutes after the player is shown all the controls, the player is left off to explore the world to himself. It is such a powerful idea to allow the player to learn every little tricks the game has by himself. It took me a while to even figure out how the scarf works in the game. It even get more complicated when another player comes into the game.
Speaking of that, the game does a seamless transition when bringing another player into the game. You may just be walking around and there will be a player around the corner. Normally the players will want to work and travel around the game together. With the help of a partner, you can get to places that would not be possible without. The only way to communicate between each player is by using a “chirp” button which can be held down to make a louder chirp. The chirp button is also used to recharge each other’s scarf so that the player can continue a glide. It takes practice but once both players get the mechanic down, using this trick will allow each other to get to hidden places. The chirp tool can be use to also call or alert the player. It is whatever you want to make of it and I pretty much used it whenever I can. Sometime my chirp will mean “Thank You” or another time it will mean “Wait for me!”
It is amazing what this game did with such simple controls and a unique idea. The unique idea is the whole seamless player transition thing but also that you don’t know who is who. No name tags appear on the player and you can’t tell if they go offline or anything. The only way to communicate is through chirping so if you run far away from your buddy, a new buddy might appear in place of him. I had 4 different companions that were with me throughout the game. Honestly, my first companion was the best. I wanted to say thank you TETUTINA (You get to see the companion names at the end of the game) for making the game so much better. I’m going to say that it is a she since the whole “Tina” in the gamer tag. Anyways, she pretty much guided me throughout 75% of the game. The game is only one and a half hour long but she showed me locations that I would not have explored. She was my tour guide throughout that part of the game. She guided me to places where I could get scarf icons to extend my scarf. She took me to places where I was able to learn more about the world. She even dragged me to places where I would have the best angle for a scripted moment. Finally there was this part where she took me to a very super hidden place. I would remember that spot as one of the best moment I have had in a videogame. Basically imagine a flying dragon that is in a secret location that you can get to if you know where it is. The developers hid this dragon to later use it but if you know where it is hidden, you can see it before it comes into the game later on. Even though you can see it later on the game, it is much more amazing to see it where it was hidden. Pretty much she was the best anonymous partner I have had in a cooperative game.
Sadly, after about 75% into the game, it seems she got disconnected from the game so it switched to another player. I believe you get a different cloak after beating the game and starting again so I was able to tell that it was a different person since the new character had the same cloak as me while she had a different cloak than all of us. Before the new player arrived, I started chirping around for her. I wanted to see if she would chirp back. After chirping for about 10 minutes, I decided to explore the world for myself. Throughout that 75% of the game, there were moments where it would have been easy to lose each other. There was this one moment where both players are sliding down a mountain of sand together. If they don’t stick to each other, they can easily lose one another. Throughout that whole scene I was constantly chirping as she was also to not lose each other. I love that scene because I felt something I haven’t felt in a long time in a videogame. Most games have characters that tries to give the player some emotional connection with them. Most games do not do this successfully so when they die, I usually don’t feel anything for them. However, in Journey, I already had this connection with my anonymous partner. The game needed no introductions with each other. My partner just pop out of nowhere and I shouldn’t have had such a strong connection. But by working together, I was able to build this connection that felt more personal than being force because of the story like many other games.
I guess I started out with the best so it was hard for me to switch to these new players. Their scarfs are short and they look as lost as me. I believe if I had one of these types of players, I would have also enjoyed the game differently. We would have explored the world together and try to see if there were anything in the game that we could find. But as I already found most of the game’s hidden features due to having an awesome partner already, I couldn’t possibly work with these new players. It was hard for me to work together. I even let the first player after Tetutina go far away from me believing that she will come back when a new player pops up. Yes even without giving me any names or anything, I was able to befriend a stranger and had an emotional connection with it. I didn’t want to work with anyone else in the game and it showed. I started to hate the new guys because they would not be as great. I really missed her in that last 25% of the game. That may be the only reason why I had 4 companions. I probably could have had only 2 but I just let them go away from me hoping that whoever would pop into my session next would have the same cloak that she did. Sadly, it did not happen.
As you can tell that this game was super emotional on my end. I was so attached to my companion that it helped escalate the game to a level of emotion I wasn’t expecting from a game like this. It is a true testament of a game for me to be this emotionally attached to an unknown stranger. I plan to send her a message saying thank you for a great time playing Journey and add her to my friends list. Also did I mention that the visuals and audios are amazing? The sand and the way they reflect the sun or interior looks phenomenal while floating scarfs/paper/cloth waver left and right with believable motion. I believe the music also helped brought out these emotion. The music was always perfect with what’s happening in the game. It speeds up when there is a high pace area and slows down when it is more of an exploring area.
Great emotional impact, amazing visuals, and perfect music makes Journey a complete package for an awesome time. The gameplay time may be one and a half hour and the price may be $15 but I believe it is worth every penny. I don’t want to compare a movie ticket with this but I believe this is way more worth it then a movie. It is a unique experience that I wish that everyone could have. I also wish that everyone who plays this game would also have an amazing companion as I did. I don’t think I would have had as much of an emotional impact as I would have without the help from an awesome companion. It is a quick game so anyone can finish it. I really do suggest that this should be played in one session. I mean it is only 1.5 hours!