Every console cycle, there are a handful of games that define each platform. Journey is one of these games for the PlayStation 3. While not perfect, this special breed of a video game is so radically distinct that it captured my imagination and has stuck with me long after the credits finished its crawl. Albeit a short, somewhat funneled experience, Journey is still a superb example of a game that will inevitably define the PlayStation 3.

The main focus of Journey is not its core gameplay, but on the emotional connection to the player and interpretation they take away from it. In Journey, you control a hooded traveler with the singular goal of crossing the desert and ascending to the top of a faraway mountain peak. For what reason? They never really tell you. After all, it’s more about the journey than the destination (See what I did there?). With the exception of some basic movement tutorials, there’s no explanation for anything and it’s never really needed. There is an inherent ease to the way Journey handles: a perfect simplicity. All you need to do is press toward the horizon, and let the game dazzle and unfold in front of you.

Graphically, Journey stands out as one of the best titles the PlayStation Network has to offer. Everything in Journey comes together to create a cohesive living package that feels like it could be an actual place. The whimsical, floaty protagonist seems right out of a children’s storybook with bright eyes that convey a solemn sense of the unknown. Warm colors make Journey’s landscape come alive. Sand will cascade down the hillside realistically with every step you take and wind will harshly try to blow you left and right.

Journey is extraordinary because it is able to build the mood without a single spoken word, instead relying on its charming aesthetic and soundtrack. This is largely successful because of Journey’s beautifully orchestrated music. Each zone varies drastically, so every stage you come across has its own original vibe that never feels repeated, which is important to note given the games shorter length. There are moments where I felt empowered and graceful as I slid down the dunes of sand like a snowboarder to an upbeat musical score, and then there were moments where I felt completely vulnerable and small as I explored a dark tomb amplified by an eerie melody.

Many great single player campaigns are watered down by unnecessary multiplayer. Surprisingly, Journey incorporates a co-operative system that actually adds something meaningful to the mix. As you play through the game, there is a chance that Journey will sync you up with another player completely at random. The only means of communication is a chirping noise each character can do as they inescapably press onward through the game. There is no voice or text chat, and you can’t even see the other persons PSN name until after Journey is over. It’s just two identical cloaked figures with the same objective. While playing with someone has no effect on the outcome of the story, having another person with you is an extremely comforting sentiment.

The most unfortunate part of Journey is its length. After Journey is completed, there is little incentive to go back and play it again, aside from a few trivial collectables. A second play-through just doesn’t carry the same emotional punch. Journey is a very bite-sized adventure that some may have a hard time justifying its price for. While it ultimately builds to a satisfying conclusion, I could not help but feel there could have been more of a journey in Journey. Most people will be able to complete the game in just two or three hours, which is great for people with a busy schedule, but for those looking to get the most bang for their buck, Journey may leave them wanting.

Thatgamecompany’s Journey is an excellent effort and a truly beautiful game. The amount of emotion that is expressed without dialogue or exposition is something that hasn’t really been seen in video games, and makes it absolutely worth your consideration. While it’s possible some gamers may see Journey as merely a short-lived theme park ride, others may see it as a truly memorable gem and one of the best games on the PlayStation 3. If we live in a world where video games are considered art, Journey is my Exhibit A.

Journey: Review
9Overall Score