Let’s get one thing straight: Journey isn’t for everyone. If you’re expecting a lot of frantic combat or particle-filled explosions, you will be sorely disappointed. If you want dramatic dialogue and clever plot twists, you’re not going to get any. Take a look at some screenshots and check out some gameplay videos before you commit. Journey is a piece of art that takes shape as the player progresses. Its floaty controls and unhurried pacing are typical fare from Thatgamecompany, so adrenaline junkies and twitch gamers should look elsewhere. The game is calming, uncomplicated, and beautiful to behold.
The story of Journey is vague and simple – the lack of dialogue allows the story to be told in any language. Players take on the role of a desert nomad embarking on a pilgrimage to a distant mountain, building bridges from tapestries and restoring hieroglyphs along the way. The nomad can draw on the power of floating scriptures to gain the ability to float for a limited time; being able to perfectly chain floating and recharging leads to sustained flight, which is one of the game’s most uplifting moments. Secret pickups in the levels extend the nomad’s flight time, but only by fractions of a second.
Journey’s presentation is stunning. Sand yields at every step and shout. Sunlight glitters off towering dunes. Wind buffets and swirls around stones set deep in the ground. Snow adheres and freezes to the nomad’s cloak. The graphics are simply superb.
The game’s score is also excellent. It ebbs and flows as you move through levels, quickening as you slide down mountains and lightening its touch as you float along. Tones that hint of eastern lands are patiently played by cello and flute, and send chills along this reviewer’s spine.
However, like any piece of appreciable art, it is priced at a slight premium. Frugal gamers may find the ratio of cost to gameplay length distressing after their purchase, especially due to the lack of replay value. Gamers looking for something to master over time will also be disappointed here.
Journey may not necessarily be required gaming, but it serves as a reminder that not all games need to be gratuitously violent or fuelled by adrenaline to invoke a sense of escapism and wonder. If you can stomach the price of admission, you can experience something amazing.