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Game Review: Journey (PS3)

They say it’s not the destination, it’s the getting there that is the story and this is what Journey goes out of its way to deliver. ThatGameCompany, already known for abstract emotional journeys such as FlOw and Flower return with Journey, easily their most commercial and easily accessible game to date – but also easily their best – and that’s coming from someone who rates Flower as one of the best downloadable games of this generation.

Journey see’s you take control of a being with no story or particular goal aside from giving you the guided visual prompt of travelling towards a beautiful mountain fountain that’s off in the distant horizon. And so it begins…

Each area be it in the harsh windy desert, an eerie cavern or a snowy mountain is stunningly realised. The style is that good, you can easily press Select and sit down to meditate and watch the day go by as the sun moves across the sky. Each area too will have a puzzle of sorts to get through but again, it’s not so much about the solving of them because they are generally very easy to do, it’s about how you do it. Each time you play you are randomly placed with an unknown player online. This means that you can only communicate via a single call button. It harks right back to when you’d call Yorda in the game Ico. Never has just a small sound meant so much. It also means that no playthrough is ever the same because no one will tackle the game the exact same way. Some people choose to ignore you and continue on their own Journey – others will want to work together. If you choose to work together and end the section together, it seems you’ll appear in the next section together too and therefore you almost instantly form a bond, using some of the co-op moves to help each other out.

The game’s story and the magical scarf system it revolves around is something I don’t want to spoil but needless to say, they are some parts in the game where if you see your fellow companion in trouble, you’ll want to come to their rescue because your characters appear to be so fragile, being tossed easily all over the place. Similarly, if your working with someone, I was so upset when they decided to quit the game and evaporate into shimmering lights to signal they’d left! Whilst I’d guessed the story very early on, there’s lots of gameplay surprises in store, there’s absolutely no padding at all. You’ll tackle a section once and you’ll not have to do that gameplay element again. By making it so entwined as a two player experience you’ll want to keep coming back as the game is only really 2-4 hours long depending if you speed through it or enjoy finding all the hidden treasures off the main path.

Positives

~Utterly stunning visual style

~The music is to die for

~Never has co-op gameplay been presented in such an emotionally investing environment or way before

~Compelling from start to finish

Negatives

~If your heart was removed at birth, you may struggle to see what the fuss is about

Conclusion

Every single second I have spent with this game I have utterly devoured and loved.  The idea is genius, the execution is precise, the music and visuals are so spot on you’ll be mesmerised. Put simply, if there is one game you will download from the PSN store – make it Journey. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Utterly stunning.

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