Mar 12, 2012

[REVIEW] ThatGameCompany's "Journey" (PSN Exclusive)


RATING: 10/10 CHET BAKERS


TITLE: Journey
CREATED BY: ThatGameCompany
SOUNDTRACK: Austin Wintory
PLATFORM: Playstation Network
PRICE: $14.99
GAME LENGTH: 2 Hours (Approx.)
RELEASE DATE: March 13th 2012

Soon after I first bought a Playstation 3 some years back, I was looking for games to buy.  I was fairly new to video game systems as it relates to this current generation. So when I first set up my account (PSN ID: GrooThePerverted) and began looking through the PSN for the games, and demos and whatnot, it was like I was in heaven.

There were all these games I had never heard about, and I immediately picked up several games that appealed to me.  At the time I wasn't into first person shooters at all, so my first purchases was Burnout Paradise, Tekken: Dark Resurrection and a PSN game called Flower.

I had seen a trailer for Flower and wasn't entirely sold on it.  I wasn't able to get a real good grasp on just what the hell was going on, or what you do.  Most games you have a set path to go (or more recently there's a huge influx of open world games) and there's a very clear set of things you have to do.  Find the enemies and take them out.  Drive from this place to that place the fastest, or whatever.

With Flower I kept hearing great things, but I wasn't sure what the hell it was, and I didn't know if I wanted to take the risk on it.  I ended up taking the plunge, and when I played it, I was stunned.


MORE AFTER THE JUMP



The game was, quite possibly, the best gaming experience I think I've ever had.  It was so different than anything I had ever played before, it was absolutely a very creative and unique experience that you really can't compare to anything else.

In fact it's almost impossible to explain it without playing it, which made me realize once I did why I couldn't figure out exactly how it would go by viewing a trailer.   It's something you have to play.

Something that seemed fairly ordinary or "boring" or whatever, turned out to be a magnificent and utterly beautiful emotional roller coaster.  There were moments that fill you with an almost euphoric high, and then there's a specific stage that pushed me to such a low level I was so depressed.  That is what the game was.  It was an incredible journey that tapped into the emotions within to create an unimaginable experience like no other.

And it was that moment that I knew I would ride with ThatGameCompany forever.   No matter what game they put out I would buy it the minute it was available.   And so that's what I did this past week when their new game, "Journey" was released for the Playstation Network a week early for Playstation Plus members.

The game, like Flower, is not an overly long game.  It's telling a story through visuals and emotional pull that is triggered by the incredible music of Austin Wintory (who also did the soundtrack for ThatGameCompany's previous release of "Flow", while Vincent Diamente did the soundtrack to the soothing "Flower" and "Cloud"), and the amazing graphics.  The story is told with no words.  The only sounds you hear, aside from the beautiful soundtrack, is the sounds of the wind, the occasional sound effect of specific things that you interact with, and the sounds of your steps as you traverse the landscapes of your journey, whether it's in the desert with the sun beating down on you, or through the water, or the snow covered mountain tops.  

The entire way there's really no instructions for you.  This is an amazing experience where you essentially find your way.  All you know is you are heading towards the light in the mountains. You begin your journey in the desert, and your journey ends high up in the mountains which seems a lifetime away from you.

To try to explain this game, the little tidbits you discover along the way, would be not only an act of futility -- as I said about Flower, it's not something that can be explained to you, you have to experience it for yourself to truly understand), but it would also be unfair.  One of the wonderful things about this is the EXPERIENCE of playing it.  Finding things out for yourself.  Coming across something and discovering something magical that you had no expectation of.  These are incredible emotional things and is something you should really experience unspoiled.

I've heard a few people talk about how they were upset at the price.   And I can understand that with gameplay of two hours or so, a $15 price tag does seem a bit steep.  However as someone who went through that exact thought process with Flower, and then feeling as I did once I played it, I have to impress upon you the importance of not judging this like you would a normal game.  Because this is not a normal game.

While the playthrough may be shorter than many other games, I guarantee you that the emotional punch that this carries is infinitely moreso than your average Playstation Network title, and once you finish it you will not feel like you wasted your money.  However as I said this is something you just have to take a chance on.  If you do, I honestly think that you will enjoy it.

Just go into it knowing that it is not like anything you've played.  Don't go in expecting it to be anything comparable to something you've played before.

And if you can do that, if you can go in with an open mind and completely innocent of any spoilers you will have bestowed upon you a truly unique video game experience that will stay with you long after you put the controller down.

This game gets my highest recommendation. Below are some links to ThatGameCompany & the game's composer Austin Wintory.  Also there's a game trailer so you can at least get some idea of what the game will look like. 



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