Journey – So much more than just a game

 

Flower is a game I’ve played easily a dozen times through. It actually slotted in at #25 in my Top 100 games list for the CC100. As a result, I immediately decided thatgamecompany was one of my favourite indie developers, and that Journey (their third game) was a title I needed to enjoy as soon as possible. And like most games that fit this category…it has sat idly in my backlog since its release back in 2012. It’s only thanks (once again) to the Cartridge Club that I’ve finally brought this desire to reality.

 

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“The game’s magic emanates from the experience of getting there.”

 

In its simplest form, Journey is a game with a single goal – make it to the light atop the mountain. But as the titular name suggests, the game’s magic emanates from the experience of getting there. As the androgynous traveler, garbed in flowing robes, you traverse through vast deserts, murky depths, and snow-capped peaks, manipulating the world around you to solve puzzles. The usual HUB tropes of life meters and points and magic and maps have been cast aside in lieu of a single strand of scarf-like cloth trailing behind your character. With each found glyph, the scarf lengthens, allowing you to glide even further, soaring angelically over the ruins of this forgotten civilization.

 

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“The true beauty lies in the companionship along the way”

 

But while the barren landscapes and howling winds may cast a sense of loneliness at times, the true beauty lies in the companionship along the way. That’s right, Journey isn’t just a game driven by your own travels, but by the collective experiences had by the strangers you interact with, in this anonymous online adventure. The elements of puzzle-solving and platforming guide you towards this interaction; one whose only form of communication can be summed up in a series of pinging chimes. Yet by the end-game, you’ll have likely fostered an unexpected attachment to those fellow journeyers you’ve shared it with. Undeniably memorable and remarkably touching.

 

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“A beautifully arching story in itself told through flutes and harps and violas and cellos”

 

The music of Journey is equally masterful. A beautifully arching story in itself told through flutes and harps and violas and cellos…all working together to convey an incredibly deep emotional tone, each track resonating with my experience the entire way through. And across my trials and tribulations through this ethereal land, culminating at the top of the mountain, was this tearfully beautiful piece by Austin Wintory.

 

 

It’s easy to see why this was not only the bestselling soundtrack album on iTunes following its release but also the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy award.

 

Journey is an artful masterpiece. A moving, interactive parable of unrivaled emotion. A beautiful experience, the likes of which I’ll never forget. But it’s clear I’m not the only one. More often than not, conversations around this game are accompanied by praises of its modern milestone status. So I’d love to hear what you think. Be sure to share your thoughts over on the Cartridge Club forums!