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VIDEO GAME REVIEW: JOURNEY

 

 

By Alexander Hansen

LOS ANGELES, 13 JUNE 2014 — In a medium that is known for violence, cheap thrills, and high scores, Journey sets itself apart by utilizing classic gaming conventions in surprising new ways to evoke emotional responses from its players. Directed by Jenova Chen at his Santa Monica-based studio, thatgamecompany, Journey is the culmination of three years of work and collaboration with talented artists and programmers. Released for the PlayStation 3 last March, Journey quickly became one of the most downloaded titles for the system, and completed the three game deal thatgamecompany had with Sony allowing them to pursue other means of distribution for future releases.

You start Journey alone in the middle of a vast desert without any formal history as to how or why you got there. Drawing heavily from Middle Eastern, Greco-Roman, and Asian design elements, lead artist Matthew Nava, created an awe-inspiring world that takes players through deserts, ruins, caves, and mountaintop shrines. While the game's world may seem expansive, through the use of clever cinematography and art design you are constantly pushed towards your goal, a beam of light on a far away mountaintop. Even though there is an absence of typical story telling devices, such as voice over or text, Journey's visuals enable each player to piece together their own version of the character's history and motivations. Furthermore, the powerful score, by composer Austin Wintory, complements the visuals and gives the player a deeper understanding of the character's emotions. Journey's intentional minimalism allows the game to become incredibly personal because the character becomes a reflection of the person playing it.

Journey also offers a unique multiplayer experience that changes the feel and tone of the game from that of isolation to companionship. If enabled, a random player can join your pilgrimage to explore the world, keep you warm in cold weather, and recharge your characters jump ability. In order for the two players to communicate, you can make a little ping sound which can mean basically anything and everything. The game's lack of proper communication methods leads to further interpretations as you try and decode your companion's intentions. In addition, the lack of communication strengthens the bond you create with other players because it forces you to stay close to one another as you struggle to survive the game's harsh environments. Whether you play alone or with a companion, Journey offers a breathtakingly beautiful experience that stays with you well after the game is over. The combination of it's outstanding visual style, beautiful score, and minimalistic presentation makes Journey something special in a medium that is rarely taken seriously.

Journey: Collector's Edition
Playstation 3
Video Game
 
Sony
$ 29.99

Alexander Hansen holds a degree in Visual Arts Media with a specialisation in Computing from the University of California at San Diego. He is a freelance motion / animation designer.

BOOK TIPS: All titles are selected by the editors as being of relevant interest to Culturekiosque readers.



Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife
By Raiford Guins
Hardcover: 376 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press (January 2014)
ISBN-10: 0262019981
ISBN-13: 978-0262019989
$35.00

 

Literary Gaming
By Astrid Ensslin

Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press (March 2014)
ISBN-10: 0262027151
ISBN-13: 978-0262027151
$30.00

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