Before you say ‘How has it taken you this long to play Journey?’ followed by comments questioning where I have been or am I completely mad, I sadly must admit that other games and life got in the way meaning that it was never a good time to experience Journey. But as part of my Better Late Than Never series, I wanted to make sure I gave myself an opportunity to take some time to finally play.
Journey was originally released in 2012 on the PS3. Developed by thatgamecompany and published by Sony, the game received high praise which was backed up by the many awards it won. The game was released in 2015 on PS4 and I’m ashamed that it has taken me 2 1/2 years to get around to playing it!
As soon as I started the game, the beautiful surroundings and music immediately grabbed me. A robed figure stands in an endless desert with a mountain in the distance which most certainly beckons you towards it. With minimal controls to worry about, the game allows you to explore the ruins and discover that although your character doesn’t speak, it has a voice which projects a musical sound which reacts with floating pieces of fabric that magically recharge your powers of jumping and flight that are linked to your long flowing scarf which grows in length as you progress.
Each part of the Journey has a puzzle element, however these aren’t designed to catch you out, but rather to continue the flow of the game. I say flow, because the your graceful character glides, slides and flies around interacting with the familiar fabric to build bridges, jettison you higher or create beautiful flying creatures who effortlessly soar in the sky with you. Of course, the other thing you may interact with is a stranger. Another player on the same Journey as you can work alongside you so that you can help each other through. I had actually forgotten about this feature and it wasn’t until the end when I remembered and I was so glad to have been able to share the experience with someone else. We couldn’t speak to each other, but we could communicate through singing to each other which was simply beautiful. The stranger can also recharge your scarf and you can support each other through. You never know, if you and a friend start at the same time, you may even meet each other or you can share a moment with a stranger who may be experiencing it for the first time. Either way, it’s beautiful and a lovely idea only enhanced further by the fact the game tells you who you travelled with at the end.
The game is not without danger. While there is beauty in the world as you move through, there is also darkness and large flying stone creatures have the ability to snuff out your light and destroy your scarf should they catch you. I got caught twice and was devastated when I saw how little of my scarf was left. I genuinely worried whether it would be possible to make it to the end without the full length to give me that push. However, as I continued on, my game crashed and I had to restart the section which fortunately returned the full length of my scarf and I decided a better tactic for sneaking by was in order. Luckily, I came across another stranger who had the same idea and we continued on together which just enhanced the experience and my enjoyment.
Journey is a beautiful game. Not only visually and audibly, but in its simplicity. It makes you feel small and in awe of the world around you. As you continue on your Journey, whether you are by yourself or with a stranger, you will your robed character through the trials and tribulations as you try to reach your goal. I must admit, I did shed a few tears as the game ended. As me and a stranger sang to each other as we reached the final checkpoint, I was happy and sad all at the same time. Happy that I had finally played the game and it was as beautiful as everyone had told me, but sad because the Journey was over. I feel my emotional response would have been much more had the game not crashed three times which resulted in me having to replay whole sections again just as I was getting to the end. It brought about unnecessary frustration and put me on edge. I’m hoping that the next time I play, this issue won’t occur and I can just relax and enjoy the experience again.
If you haven’t played Journey yet, don’t put it off any longer. I regret not playing it sooner and as it will only take two to three hours to play through, I most certainly will play it again so I can explore some of the areas which I saw off in the distance but did not head to this time around. If you expect a fast paced action then be aware that it is not what Journey is. This is an adventure game of exploration, connection and beauty which I certainly hope will capture your heart as much as it has mine. You never know, maybe I’ll meet you there.