Describing Journey and what it is may be difficult, so forgive me if some of this just doesn’t make sense. You start the game as a character in a red hood. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to refer to the character as Red. That’s not its name, but its what I found myself calling it as I progressed.
Told nothing but how to control the camera, you are directed forward up a small hill, where, in the distance, you see a glowing mountain far above you. The title card pops, and your journey begins.
That is about all the instruction you get other than what the two buttons in the game do. You can send out a pulse, with circle, which will awake the red magical creatures you find in the world. These beings appear as small cloth squares or flying objects made out of the same material. The only other thing would be hitting the x-button to jump, which you can only do when you have a segment on your scarf. As you go through the game an interact with symbols, your scarf gets longer, allowing you to jump more or for longer.
Such basic controls, and even though jumping is the only real thing you can do, I would not call Journey a platformer. What would I call it? Its more of an interactive narrative, that tells its story not with words, but through its music and its visuals.
Journey truly is the Fantasia of video games. Where in most games, the soundtrack complements the visuals by making the meaning behind each scene more important, Journey’s soundtrack transcends just a bond between see and hear, and those senses truly become one in the same. You cannot see Journey’s world without also hearing it.
Sight and sound go beyond just complementing one another, but they meld and fuse into something else. The only other experience I know of that does this so well, is Fantasia, where for every thing you saw, there is a sound to go with it. Journey is like that, but to a level of perfection. Every time you feel stressed or are excited, Journey’s music extends and crescendos to simulate the feeling, and it nails. Every single time.
The fully orchestrated soundtrack is only one half of that equation, there are also the visuals. Journey is absolutely beautiful. Some may be hesitant to enter, seeing the desert and worrying that there is only sand and rock to see. Let me put those worries aside. Even though the first half of Journey does take place in a desert, what the designers do with it is amazing. From focusing on the ruins around Red, to the incredible reflections of light bouncing off the sand, you’ll never feel like your seeing the same thing over and over again.
There are also great things the designers do with colour through the game, by making what would normally be normal orange sand, blue or dark, and bringing out a beauty in the desert I didn’t know was there.
There is a cooperative element to the game, but it isn’t anything like you would normally expect, but then again, what is with Journey. As you travel the world, you may run into another Red, or another character that looks just like you. You can work together, walk together, and go together, or you can completely ignore each other. No usernames pop up, no dialogue, just two characters together. Its an interesting idea, that works very well. Sometimes its comforting to know you aren’t making the journey alone.
If I had one complaint about the game, and I do only have one, its that it isn’t very long. It took me maybe three and a half hours, at maximum four, to beat the game. I really wish the game was longer, but I think the way the game ends, without spoiling it, will have you come back for more. I know I will take this same journey again and again.
I do not think I can explain any clearer why I love Journey so much. As someone who has played a lot of games, and tells people whether I think they should buy games or not, I can tell you that Journey is an artistic masterpiece and one of the most beautiful looking and sounding games I have seen in a long while. You should buy this game, if it at all sounds interesting. I would spend $30 on the four hours I got from this game, and it only costs $15.
While the music played I was on the edge of my seat, and the one moment in the game where it stops, it took my breath away.