With little context ThatGameCompany dumps you in the desert, with only a shining light in the distance. The rest is literally up to you in this remake of Journey, the developer’s critically acclaimed minimalist adventure for the PlayStation 4. After a string of successes with Flow & Flower this downloadable title from the PlayStation Network once again delivers the fundamental beauty that fans of That Game Company have come to expect. The story of Journey is simple, eloquent, and up for plenty of interpretation. Coupled with a simplistic control scheme, and a unique take on multiplayer, it’s definitely not your average downloadable title.
At its core, Journey is a third person adventure. You’ll make your way across the desert, through frozen lands, and underground caverns, with little to no direction from the game itself, aside from subtle clues left behind by the developers and the in-plain view destination that almost always looms.
Light platforming and puzzle solving compliment the free flowing exploring nicely
Following the minimalist approach, Journey’s gameplay is uncluttered with menus, health bars, or inventories to navigate. The screen, however, tells you all you need to know about your character, and the progress they are making on their way. You’ll earn pieces of scarf which allow for you to take flight, and put simply, the more pieces of scarf you find, the longer you can soar unassisted, the game’s primary mechanic. Journey ventures into numerous genres on its trip. Light platforming and puzzle solving compliment the free flowing exploring nicely, and with your goal always in site, its easy to get back on track if you happen to take the road less traveled.
Though Journey’s greatest feat is in its implementation of multiplayer. A variant of drop-in/drop-out co-op will have you meeting up with other travelers on your way, albeit in complete anonymity. A small light beacon will signal you that there is another player in close proximity to you, and you can either choose to work with them or go on your own way. The incentives for staying together are the ability to recharge each others scarves, as well as having two sets of eyes looking for glyphs that are found throughout the campaign.
Lack of voice communication oddly makes the game feel more intimate
But something else was achieved in the anonymous cooperative play that you won’t find in other games. Communication is limited to visual and audible cues that leave alot of your relationship with your partner in a gray area. The lack of traditional communication methods like a microphone make the game less personal, but in many ways more intimate. While you certainly don’t need to play Journey with a fellow traveler, its an exceptional addition to the overall package. Revealed to you at the end, you’ll find that during the few hours that it takes to complete a single playthrough of the game, you may cross paths with any number of other players.
Whether you judge Journey on its satisfying palette of beautiful art, it’s mold breaking twist on multiplayer, or its unique method or story telling, you’ll be hard pressed to find many faults with Jenova Chen’s latest vision. It might be That Game Company’s best targeted game for the core gaming audience, but with that said, it does come in a tad on the short side when speaking to the game’s length.
Journey is a trip worth taking. It’s a bite sized adventure that you won’t soon forget with plenty of replay value. An already beautiful experience is made even more gorgeous on the PlayStation 4. Journey strays far from convention, but ultimately feels nearly perfect in every way.
- Available On: PS4, PS3
- Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Developed By: That Game Company - Tricky Pixels
- Genre: Adventure
- US Release Date: July 21st, 2015
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
- Quote: "An already beautiful experience is made even more gorgeous on the PlayStation 4 -- Journey is a trip worth taking. It’s a bite sized adventure that you won’t soon forget."