Journey

Journey Review for PS3

On: PS3PS4

Awakening in an unknown world, the player walks, glides, and flies through a vast and awe-inspiring landscape, while discovering the hist

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9Out of 10
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Journey screenshot
Journey screenshot

Wonder: that's what we've been missing. This console generation has been defined by technological horsepower driving digital worlds of increasing verisimilitude. Yet these approximations of realism offer little but empty spectacle, sights that provoke admiration rather than astonishment. Our eyes widen at the latest tech demos and target renders, but rarely do they make our jaws drop and our synapses fire with genuine delight. That Journey – a downloadable release, no less, costing less than ten pounds – should regularly provide moments of genuine, dumbstruck awe is quite the achievement.

Such instances aren't merely reserved for its beautiful setting, but this breathtaking world is a remarkable feat of engineering. At times you consider that Journey may have been delayed so as not to embarrass Naughty Dog: many said ten minutes wandering through the desert as Drake was a brave move, yet Journey proves this to be hollow hyperbole. For starters, its sand effects are significantly more convincing. Its billions of particles form a fluid surface, endlessly shifting, undulating, grains gently splashing up and out with every step you take. It shimmers gorgeously underneath the sun's rays; later, it's flecked with tiny bronze highlights, glistering faintly in the gloom.

Often you'll be gazing at a yawning horizon, but elsewhere you'll spend as much time looking up. Quite aside from the imposing light-emitting mountain that represents your final destination, you'll frequently be dwarfed by ancient monumental constructions that lie in ruins. Sometimes your presence will awaken ancient mechanisms that whirr and clank into life, triggered by the strange musical noises that represent your only means of communication. You're regularly made to feel very small indeed, even as you gradually come to realise how important your place in this strange, enticing world is.

Such is its allure that you begin to believe it's the ideal game to show non-believers to convince them of the medium's value. Trouble is, there are no other games quite like Journey, even if, in many ways, this is thatgamecompany's most conventional release to date. That's not to say all its ideas are unfamiliar: during one exhilarating sequence it evokes a trick-free SSX, while by introducing gentle puzzle elements to your curious probing of ancient ruins, it's oddly redolent of Tomb Raider – or, indeed, Uncharted. On occasion it filters its exploration through stealth and survival horror tropes, while its narrative flow closely mirrors that of its predecessor, Flower. And in its bleak, windswept vistas, it owes a substantial debt to the works of Fumito Ueda. Mostly, it echoes the desolate solitude of Shadow of the Colossus. But it's Ueda's other game that casts a longer shadow.

Because Journey is two games in one. It is a single-player experience of unrivalled atmosphere, of thoughtful, considered pacing and contemplative, elliptical storytelling. But it is also a two-player game. When connected to the PlayStation Network, you may occasionally glimpse a fellow explorer, another lonely soul discovering the veiled secrets of this enigmatic world. You won't know anything about them, other than the fact that they're not on your friends' list, the online setup ensuring you'll only ever encounter strangers. Your initial response will likely be one of surprise, then apprehension. You might tentatively approach them. You might find they'd prefer to experience this particular journey – their journey – alone, as might you. You might, however, find that, like you, they're seeking companionship; someone to help them make sense of their trek to that mysterious glowing light at the peak of the world.

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clangod's Avatar

clangod

I was lucky enough to get to try the beta, so this is a must simply for the fact that I didn't get enough of it during that time.

I welcome any and all games of this ilk. Break the pace of the norm. The unique experience is remembered much more vividly than one that becomes a chore.
Posted 09:07 on 03 March 2012
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ CheekyLee

I dunno. I was probably going to watch it to reaffirm my preconceptions about the game to the extent that I can bitch about it on the internet without having actually played it.

I like the bit where you go across the sand. It really speaks to me, and reflects who I am as a person.

Unless it's, like, actually good and stuff.
Posted 12:18 on 02 March 2012
EverTheOptimist's Avatar

EverTheOptimist

I quite fancy downloading this just for a dose of something different. I haven't thoroughly read the review and I don't even want to know what the purpose of the game is and how it works, so I'm in for a totally fresh experience.
Posted 11:43 on 02 March 2012
munkee's Avatar

munkee

I'm looking forward to playing it so I can tell people how brilliant it is. I'll slag off people who don't like it and suggest that they stick to playing Call of Duty. Same as I did with El Shaddai, Rez, Sword & Sworcery, Shadow of the Colossus, Wipeout, Vib-Ribbon and various other 'art-yeah!' games that most of you just wouldn't understand (***** ICO. That ***** tried too hard)*

/arrogant art wanker.

*The opinions expressed don't necessarily reflect those of munkee.

On a more sensible note I'm actually really looking forward to experiencing Journey. These type of games really tick my boxes.
Posted 22:02 on 01 March 2012
Timid's Avatar

Timid

This was one of the games I was looking forward to after playing it at Eurogamer. Glad it doesn't disappoint. :)
Posted 21:04 on 01 March 2012
thedanyrand's Avatar

thedanyrand

After hearing about this on the podcast and now this review Il have to check it out. So well done to all because this isnt the type of game I would normally look twice at.
Posted 19:20 on 01 March 2012
TomO's Avatar

TomO@ CheekyLee

The video could be seen as a spoiler, but we're not forcing people to watch it - it's there for people who do want to take a look.
Posted 17:29 on 01 March 2012
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SACRED IN THIS WORLD:

Lose that "First 10 minutes" video! Having just read a review that goes to great lengths to tell me that I am going to experience something magical, to then offer to show it to me thus removing a large chunk of the wonder? A bit daft. I certainly won't be clicking on it, to do so would be an injustice to the game itself, and this review of it. Really good work, Mr. Schilling.
Posted 17:18 on 01 March 2012
Rickitis's Avatar

Rickitis

Cannot wait to play this, Flower was great as was Flow, very excited! :-D
Posted 16:13 on 01 March 2012

Game Stats

Journey
9
Out of 10
Journey
  • An unforgettable multiplayer experience
  • Looks and sounds like nothing else
  • A singular vision, executed to near-perfection
  • Low replay value for offline players; surprisingly linear
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 14/03/2012
Platforms: PS3 , PS4
Developer: thatgamecompany
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Adventure
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 245 3
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