You are a traveler; you have no name you don’t know where you came from, who you are or why you are here. You are crossing through a gorgeous desert with a stranger you don’t know anything about or have any way to communicate with but you have one goal, to reach the top of a mountain in the far distance. This is Journey.
Journey takes all the gaming standards and throws them out the window. There is no minimap, no scorekeeping, no leveling, and the game is stripped down to three functions: pressing the X button to jump/fly, pressing the O button to release a single musical note and using the right stick to move.
You won’t play Journey for the story or the game play, but you will play it for the experience. Journey’s goal is to immerse you in sights and sounds, and to make you think. It accomplishes its goal so beautifully that the real world around you will just disappear.
The game starts with you as a single hooded traveler you know nothing about and shows you a shining light in the distance, with a simple imagery guide you pick up on the controls and you are off. From the very first second you will be treated to a magical musical score that is as much part of the game as the visuals, and the visuals will awe you.
Over every hill and around every corner there is a visual treat awaiting you. The simple cartoonish style of Journey works perfectly. This is a gorgeous world that beckons for you to take your time and explore it. There are no time limits or score to be had, the game is trying to tell you “slow down, enjoy the world around you and take it all in.”
Along the way the game will seamlessly connect you to other players. Your only source of communication with these players is through the O button and musical notes. Connecting with another person never takes away from the experience, in fact it enhances it. Trying to communicate with another player and having them right by my side experiencing everything along with me, was one of the most enjoyable online experiences I have ever had.
You are able to play Journey from beginning to end in one sitting, and once you have completed the journey you will not have much reason to return unless you wanted to experience it all again. This works for the goal of the game, but will definitely put a question in some gamers if they should shell out the $15 to buy it.
If you are looking for a story driven game you can play for days on end, Journey is not the game for you. The game has a set purpose and that is to give the gamer an experience through sight and sound in a single sitting and it accomplishes that goal flawlessly, but Journey fails at all the video game standards because it doesn’t try.
Come into Journey with an open mind and you will not be disappointed. You will leave with a sense of awe and want nothing more than to share it with the world. Come into Journey with an expectation of epic stories and engrossing action and you will be sorely disappointed. If you can remove all gaming norm expectations Journey is well worth the experience and something every gamer should play at least once in their life.