My Thoughts On Journey

14 Jan

Will Wright should've taken a better look at this game.

Indie game developer thatgamecompany (yes, it’s a lowercase t, and yes, it’s all bunched up that way) has been known throughout their short lifespan to develop simple games with deep emotional themes. Their first was the oceanic adventure flOw, where players took control of a tiny organism that evolved through the consumption of others like it. As it did this, it would descend to the darkest depths of the ocean, only to find itself facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles and enemies. The result was, and still is, a fun, beautifully designed piece of art that anyone, be they a hardcore Counter-Strike player, or a scrub who’s just getting into gaming, can enjoy. It appeared first on the PC, and then on PlayStation Network utilizing the PS3’s SIXAXIS controls. This was the beginning of TGC’s relationship with Sony, which would lead to the production of their next game: Flower.

Isn't it pretty? Yeah, dark, but pretty. :)

Flower was TGC’s first attempt at crafting a story along with their game. It begins with you in your dilapidated bedroom. A potted flower is resting on the windowsill (I’m pretty sure that’s where it is. It’s been a while since I’ve played). It hasn’t bloomed yet. As you focus on it, you go to sleep (this is implied, but it’s plainly obvious). When you arrive in your little dream world, you become the petal of the flower you saw in reality, breaking away from the flower and allowing it to bloom. You then proceed to pass over other flowers, using the SIXAXIS controls as in flOw, helping them bloom and gathering a single petal from each along the way.

The night missions are awesome, really.

The journey you go on from this point really shouldn’t be spoiled for those who haven’t played. For those who have, no recap is necessary. You meet adversity, just as you did in flOw, although the dangers you face are very different from the creatures in TGC’s first game, less alive and more stagnant, they still prove to be just as threatening. It’s an art game, it’s true, but it’s not like art films where you look at it and you go, “Yeah, the critics are gonna jerk off all over this one.” You really feel the love and care that was put into the universe of Flower, as well as its subtle, but effective, story. Flower showed the world that TGC could make not just a great game, but tell a great story as well. Now it was time for them to pull out the big guns. And so, here it is, their 2012 masterpiece, Journey.

Guys, this one's a classic, no lie.

Now, this may sound crazy, and I played a lot of games last year that were really good. I haven’t finished The Walking Dead, so I may take it back after the last episode, we’ll see. However, as of right now, I can firmly state that Journey was my favorite game of 2012. Seriously guys, this game totally caught me off guard. I mean, Flower was awesome, really awesome. It was a solid game. But Journey adds a level of aesthetics to gaming that barely any games have ever brought to the table. Heavy Rain did a great job, but Journey is just–it’s friggin’ JOURNEY! The game stars an unnamed protagonist, who seeks to reach the top of a great mountain. They comes across an intriguing set of companions who communicate through song with the game’s hero, aiding them in their quest to reach the peak. As the player progresses through the game, they will uncover the history of the Journey universe, learning what’s so special about this mountain, why it needs to be reached, where the main character’s origins lie, and, above all else, their applicability to the real world.

Awmahgosh, this part was AMAZING!

In just a few short hours (and this game is short, definitely), you’ll have developed not only an intimate relation to your character, but the world around you and its inhabitants. The ending (don’t worry, I’m not saying anything) is–oh, just buy the damn game and stop listening to me. Seriously, if you don’t don’t have a PS3, buy one, then get a PSN account (it’s free, unlike XBOX Live) and, from there, go to the PSN Store and buy and download Journey.

They're like magic carpet people.

I’m not trying to be like IGN, okay. You know what I mean, right? Like how IGN did a Mass Effect 3 review that was absolutely perfect and barely mentioned the #*<&!%@ $#**$#!^ <^%* @$$ $#!^ ending we got that #*<&!%@ sucked? No, I’m being legitimate here: this game is that good. The Walking Dead is a close runner-up, as is Planetside 2.  I’m still not taking anything back until after I finish The Walking Dead. If the last episode destroys my face with awesome, then perhaps I’ll eat my words and have to tell you all, “I was wrong.” Until then, go buy Journey.

Just do it.

~D.

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