Journey - PSN review

Thursday, 29 March 2012 01:42 AM Written by 

When I was a young boy, I was shown an early Disney film called “Fantasia,” a movie that mesmerizes me to this day.   The word “symphony” comes to mind when I think about it, not only in the literal sense of the word that represents a classical piece of music, but because of the movie’s characterization of two elements working together for a common cause.  “Fantasia” was and is the perfect harmonious relationship between music and imagery, two elements that have the ability to evoke strong emotion.  To see them come together in a way that I had never seen before at a young age was awe-inspiring.  Since then, I haven’t had an experience that resonated with me on the same level of “Fantasia” until I played Journey for the PS3. 

Journey is an “experience” in every sense of the word.  The game’s brilliant presentation tells an emotional story that stimulates the imagination, potentially making it different for each player. The story needs no tangible communication tools like dialogue, back-story, or subtitles.  It is told by complex yet heartwarming orchestral music and breathtaking visuals in a style that is unlike any video game I’ve ever played.

The story excels with its simplicity.  It follows one’s voyage through trial and hardship across desert sands, perilous caverns, and frozen cliffs.  The character is driven by hope and faith to reach an unknown goal.

The controls are minimal, as not to overshadow or remove the player from the experience at hand.  Movement and actions are handled only by three buttons on the controller.  There is no tutorial or explanation to guide you.  The gameplay and progression seems to naturally flow forward, a feat that is equally as impressive as the game’s unique style.

My adoration for Journey could be attributed to lack of expectation.  I had heard rumblings that this game was a must-play, but I didn’t know much beyond that.  The fact that today’s video game culture rigidly categorizes each game into factions like FPS, RTS, RPG, Action/Adventure etc. works in Journeys favor, because the game is almost impossible to categorize.  When observing a new game in one of these categories, we subconsciously form expectations based on our previous experiences with games in any given category.  Going into Journey presents you with a blank slate if you haven’t already read something about it, or watched a gameplay video.  It’s best experienced in this way, which is why I’m keeping details of the game to a minimum in this review.

Journey’s runtime only clocks in at an hour and a half to two hours, making it considerably shorter than other downloadable games.  In just these two hours, the game packs significantly more depth and provocation than almost any other $15 options on the PSN.  There are secrets hidden throughout the game, but I played through a second time just for the experience alone.

Journey’s “experience” is such a cerebral one that I fear no review could do it justice.  It’s designed to be observed in the form of a video game, not read or watched.  It’s harmonious convergence of audio, visual, story, and control make it video gaming at its finest.  If you can, play it in one sitting from start to finish free of distractions to get the full experience.  Journey deserves it.

 

10 out of 10

 

Pros:

An experience unlike any other

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