You are a nameless traveller, embarking on an emotional journey through a mysterious hostile environment that seems to be of a fallen civilisation, aiming to reach the peak of a mountain that marvels you from the distance. Your journey is partitioned from one chapter to the next, with the latter having much more intense and challenging obstacles than its predecessor, as most games do. However, unlike most games, Journey is short and simplistic, but its slow-paced narrative makes it one that you can still enjoy every bit of as it puts you in a relaxing mood right from the get-go.
This is a chill game. Released in 2012 by the indie video game developer with an ever-so indie label, ‘Thatgamecompany’, and critically-acclaimed for its moving visuals. What really stood out for me is without a doubt, how it is highly dependent on its graphics. No words were spoken throughout the game as it is very much visually-driven and silent. The minimalist art style, judging from its flat and soft texture slightly alluding to geometric shapes cut out to form figures, communicates the game’s straightforwardness, from its narrative down to the game mechanics. It’s one of those games that you don’t necessarily wish had better graphics just because it can’t be reinvented in the same way – simple, original, and very much relevant to its context.
Another aspect of the game that I personally loved was the music. Unlike most games where sound feels very much like a last-minute addition, the musical score blends in exceptionally well with Journey. It’s a quiet and relaxing game, and that added realism through the whistling sand noises coupled with the heart-stirring soundtrack only further enhances the initial mood it puts you in as it is not too distracting and at the same time not too bland for you to fully block out its existence, becoming more of a boost than an addition.
Journey has straightforward objectives that don’t necessarily bore its players, credits to its stunning visuals and a perfectly timed musical score. The game mechanics are not as complex as Uncharted 4 or GTA, mostly involving a lot of jumping and sprinting, making it easy to learn even for PS4 newbies like myself the first time I played it.
Despite the fact that the game is pretty linear story-wise—providing players just the one outcome in each chapter which is that they face obstacles and move on to the next—the design of the game lets their players explore the map, resulting in other side goals such as keeping your character’s scarf as long as possible to enable flying as well as unlocking certain trophies that automatically refills this need. There wasn’t a time when I felt ‘stuck’ in one chapter and forced to keep playing just for the sake of finishing the game, mainly because it diverts you from that potential boredom and confusion of not knowing where to go with these said side goals, hence simultaneously giving a smooth flow to my gameplay. Comparatively, Journey doesn’t give you as many options as opposed to the more recent ones like Until Dawn, inwhich the players’ decisions determine where the narrative goes, but it doesn’t fail to give you a sense of freedom playing through it. It’s not an open-world game; it is very much 3D platform-based, just more open in a sense that you can explore without getting too invested in the direction you’re meant to go or too lost in the map.
Although Journey has the multi-player feature it is also highly praised for, I recommend it to be played solo the first time. Neither options will ruin the experience, but this is in order to maximise that calming mood it tends to put you in. Play it with your WiFi turned off, lights out, headphones in, and voila.