Thatgamecompany is back with their third game, Journey, which sees the player travel across a strange and beautiful land to their ultimate destination, with other real players accompanying them along the way. While the gameplay and visuals are unique, the ethos and atmosphere behind Journey harks back to the wonderful worlds of both flOw and Flower. And much like its predecessors, exposition is a visual experience, left for the player to interpret.
The player is given control of a small, robed and hooded figure who can run, jump and slide and that’s about it. Beautiful in its simplicity, the game naturally introduces its salient features and mechanics through player discovery. Anyone seeking a complex platforming system and an arsenal of special moves may be disappointed because that is the very antithesis of Journey.
You soon learn that in this serene world, and initially in the desertscape, that the pieces of cloth that scatter the world, carpets, I’d opted to call them, are alive, and they are your friends. You are able to revive them, they in turn give you extra ‘power’ to jump higher and further to allow you to reach your destination. These carpets even allow your to form large bridges or even ride them as the glide along. The extent of Journey’s platforming mechanics doesn’t reach out much farther, but at the same time, I never felt a dearth of features nor a significant lack of challenge.
The story is a simple one, as you might have guessed, it’s a journey, to your ultimate destination atop a high mountain in the distance. There’s a somewhat spiritual element to it, involving what appear to be the gods of the world and you journey leads you down into dark depths before you can climb upwards. To say anything more would be to spoil the best thing Journey has to offer, suffice to say it’s a beautiful and even magical journey.
It’s interesting way to approach multiplayer, doing away with lobbies and player names, which creates a much nicer, though more basic, online experience. In many ways, it can feel more meaningful. And then there’s nothing like the surprise to see the disparate names of your companion(s) listed at the end. e.g. Xx720NoScopexX etc.