“The Sands of Time”

Journey is a game that conveys so much without speaking a single word. It relishes in the poignancy of human emotion, bringing tears, joy, empathy and pure bliss to those who are willing to embark its path of self-discovery. Journey is among the few games to truly move me, causing a deeper understanding of oneself, as well as the ranging influence of art. Through its three hour escapade, Journey creates fond and shaping memories with the potential to stick by one’s side for years to come.

Defining Journey aims to uncover the despicable, often unpredictable roots of emotions themselves. Journey forgoes participation in conventional gaming practices like skill trees, dialogue, statistics, combat; the list goes on. The unique intentions of thatgamecompany are somewhat unclear as one treks through the shimmering desert environments. It’s an emotional and mental investment, as anything is, with such deep layers of truth and sorrow.Journey 2You play as a nameless, cloaked figure, with a single goal in mind: travel toward a distant, mysterious mountain. It radiates intrigue, and refrains from ever specifically telling the player to steer in it’s direction, rather subtly plants the seed of its importance. Along the way, a sense of wonder and unexpectedness waters the seed. Journey maintains an infectious feeling of curiosity and urge to travel into the unknown across its entirety. Never once does the game resort to anything less than keeping the player on their toes, tactfully prepping them for the unexpected.

As you make your way closer to the mountain, you’ll uncover more of the secrets and charm Journey has so neatly hidden up its sleeve. It doesn’t take much to wrap one’s head around the concept of the game’s mechanical basics, and it’s all the better for it. Through the simple and easily graspable means of interaction, Journey is able to lend more focus to what really matters. In fact, only two buttons are ever made use of. Pressing X, will lead the robed protagonist to soar into the air, within the restraints of the length of its scarf. Pressing circle, will send out a signal to communicate with whatever or whomever would respond to the call. Journey is presentationally very simple, creating all the more satisfying of contrasts when it’s depth is slowly, but surely revealed.Journey 4One of Journey’s most powerful traits is bringing you close to others. Despite its prominent themes of loneliness, you’re not alone. You can call upon bushels of ribbons that hover and spin, providing power to your scarf. You’ll also run across cloth creatures that become magic-carpet like companions that offer rides to higher ground. It’s all very strange, yet Journey puts you in an emotionally submissive place, when riding on a magical carpet has the power to bring a tear to your eye. Though it’s  connecting with other anonymous travelers where Journey’s sense of unspoken companionship truly flourishes. Presuming you play when connected to the Internet, encounters with another mysterious individual, identical to your character’s appearance, lay afoot. During one’s odyssey to the mountain, players can choose to ignore or welcome other players to accompany them in their travels. The interaction between the travelers is seamless and subtle. There’s no identifying factors to the optional partner, no gamertag and no voice chat to reveal their identity. Communication is simply made possible by body language and the chirping of the simplistic speaking system mentioned above. Sharing the adventure with an anonymous soul only heightens the contrast and emotional affect of both the environments and implied themes. It could be my utmost treasured multiplayer experience. Ironic, considering it’s in the presence of a complete stranger.

All is impeccably matched to an euphoric score, that creatively plays with its own set of emotions. The superb music is impactful on its own, yet the game’s dynamic integration brings it to a whole new level. By way of the score, Journey is able to seamlessly transition the tone of environments. As you near the mountain, the comfort you found in the sand and welcoming melodies drift away, and are replaced with harsher conditions and more somber music. The excellent culmination of the two allow Journey to quickly switch the pace without jarring players out of the experience. The game ceases hope, just to bring it back stronger and more powerful than ever, all in a swift matter of emotionally taxing, unforgettable moments.Journey 3Conclusion: Unlike many games, Journey is more about the lasting impression than the moment-to-moment enjoyment. It’s a game that thought-provokingly offers hope, whether you’re in need of it or not. Through its riveting environmental storytelling, impeccable music, emotional themes, and remarkable aesthetics, this short and concise downloadable experience is lifted to a level all games strive to reach. It’s possible Journey won’t hit everyone the same–emotions are a tricky thing to put in a box–regardless, there’s still plenty to soak up for everyone. From the beautiful visuals, to a glorious soundtrack, Journey never ceases to invoke a constantly shifting range of emotions. Journey is a masterful achievement and a wonderful example of the power video games can have on one’s soul.

Connect with me on Twitter and let me know your thoughts on Journey. You can find me @BraxHaugen.