Journey: “Less is More”:Â a review of the PSN game by SpuzzHardwick
Due to the lack of quality PS3 titles thus far in 2012 I found myself recently checking out some of the much talked about PSN downloadable games available. Limbo, Flower, Skullgirls, and many others have gotten favorable reviews and praise for being fun, cheap, and often very artistic.
One that stood out to me was the recent release, â€śJourneyâ€ť by developer thatgamecompany. Its screenshots showed vast deserts (a la Uncharted 3), a minimalist design to its main character, and gameplay that seemed to involve a lot of roaming and exploring in mysterious temples and grottos left behind by a long gone civilization (a la Shadow of the Colossus). I read online that it was a tad on the short side (taking roughly two hours to complete) but I gave in and paid the $15.00.
What I got was indeed a two hour experience. But what a two hour experience it was!
Donâ€™t let its disappointing length fool you. Journey is (in this humble reviewerâ€™s opinion) a contender for game of the year come the gaming worldâ€™s year end polls (if PSN games even get nominated). Journey is a breathtakingly beautiful game. With no opening cutscene to explain the story and no real tutorial to speak of (save for a brief explanation of the only two buttons you will use throughout the whole game), you can tell right away that the developers of Journey were going for a â€śless is moreâ€ť approach to the storytelling and learning curve of their game.
This lack of conventional â€śhand holdingâ€ť that is often present in todayâ€™s game is what got me hooked. Staring over a sand dune towards a shining peak in the distance, your goal is simple and obvious: reach that peak. Whatâ€™s at the glowing peak? What will you encounter on the way? Why does your scarf have numerous unexplained uses that trigger strange pieces of living cloth? These are the questions that make Journey an enthralling game. Those hoping for a complex narrative or satisfying payoff at the end will be horrible disappointed. It may seem clichĂ© (given that itâ€™s right in the title of the game) but this one is not about the destination but the (ahem) Journey.
It plays fluidly and near perfectly. I had a few camera issues once while franticly avoiding the gaze of a flying serpent (youâ€™ll see what I mean) but otherwise it played like a charm. The lack of a complicated control scheme makes things easy on the mind and the puzzle solving feels fun, quick, and satisfying. Thereâ€™s online co-op which allows you (if connected to the internet) to run into other players on your travels towards the glowing peak and help them out or join them. I played by myself however, and canâ€™t comment on the strength of multiplayer mechanics, though I would assume itâ€™d be rather fun seeing as single player was a blast.
Journeyâ€™s strong point is of course its visuals and art design. I really have not seen things this beautiful in a game in quite a while. I also havenâ€™t been so engaged in getting to the end of a game in a while either. Maybe Iâ€™ve been jaded by lackluster mainstream releases and need to play more of these downloadable titles. Iâ€™m sure glad I got Journey and if it sounds like a game youâ€™d enjoy, you should definitely get it too.