It all starts in the desert. Standing up, you make your way up the small mound of sand in front of you, and you see the vast dunes stretch out in front of you. And then, you slide. The ease of which surprises you at first, but soon you start to enjoy it, the looseness of the sand beneath your feet, the brisk reward after a high climb. You see something sparkling off in the distance, and you wonder what it could be for, so you investigate. A strange glyph glows just in front of you, so what else do you do but touch it, assimilate it into your being. Lo and behold, you have a scarf. It isn’t very long at the moment, but you’ll soon fix that. You see the faint outline of the controller with a button highlighted on the screen, so, like a good little soldier, you press it. Now, you’re flying, although your time in the air is dishearteningly brief. You’re confident you’ll grow to soar though, this desert does look mighty big, and you do only have very small feet.
Journey isn’t afraid to leave the player alone for an extended period of time, popping in here and there with a friendly reminder that off in the distance is a mountain, and that, at some point, you will likely climb it. Of course, you’ll likely have company for the majority of that pilgrimage. The game’s online system is designed in such a way that somebody will find you whether you want them to or not. Once that person does, though, the game takes an entirely different shape. What was once a solitary affair becomes distinctly friendlier, with players chirping back and forth in support, and offering each other helping hands through trying times. Its a curious feeling, playing with somebody you will likely never meet, and yet experiencing so many emotions together as you travel onwards towards your goal. Trials await, but with your partner by your side, you know you’ll always have somebody there to aid you when you stumble. When you lose them, you’ll miss them in ways i’ve never experienced in a game before.
Nothing feels hastily constructed in Journey, the world always feels like everything has been placed with care, and that same care extends to the tiniest detail. Clouds of sand swirl up around your limbs, and the dunes move like a rough sea. Everything feels just that little bit exaggerated, and it feels unfamiliar. You’re walking on sand, and it moves like sand under your feet, but you know this world is not your own. Its a far cry from the familiar surroundings of flower, where you took control of something familiar, and manipulated it in a way that felt new and intriguing. In this world, everything is different, and the game revels in treading that fine line between the familiar and the distinctly otherworldly. This sense of discovery pervades the entire experience, and the utterly beautiful musical score that underpins it only serves to further that adventurous spirit. Sweeping orchestral sounds have never felt so in line with a created universe, and so utterly entwined with the core experience. I can’t imagine Journey without the music that underpins it.
Don’t enter into the world of Journey expecting to see merely sand and sky though. The game’s world is far more expansive than that, taking you to underground caves and even the frozen tundra as you travel through the world. The visuals never let up, remaining effortlessly beautiful at every possible moment. When you’re sliding down a sand covered hill as the sun sets in the background, you’ll realise that this is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a game before, and when its over, you’ll be placed in an equally stunning location. The game never looks plain, even at a standstill.
If you’ve ever had a taste for adventure, that swirling sensation in your stomach as you peek outside your comfort zone, you need look no further. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the unknown, find solace in a complete stranger’s presence, all the while experiencing something utterly unique, then you need to play Journey. I can think of nothing better in a game than exploring the desert, and seeing what secrets the sands have to offer.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Stunning landscape to traverse
- Outstanding soundtrack
- Impressive and unique online system
What I Dislike:
- Some people will find it short