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All I Can Say is Wow...

Quite a few months late to the party, I downloaded Journey from PSN last week and finally had a chance to play through it today.  To be honest I'm still a bit overwhelmed by the experience, but I'll try and keep my thoughts as organized as possible.  After playing for 20 minutes and setting it down because of work the next morning, I was told that the 'only' way to play the game was in one sitting so I waited for my day off today.  I wasn't led astray by this advice.

Journey would be 'exhibit A' in a courtroom deciding whether or not games can be art.  Notice I say can be.  Not all games reach that level in my opinion, but this one hits the mark on all levels.  From the haunting soundtrack (which deserves it's award nomination if anything ever has) to the pure minimalism shown in the design, Journey excels at drawing emotion from it's audience like no other game ever has for me.

Just when you're starting to feel a touch too alone in the desert atmosphere a new player gets thrown into the mix and the sense of bonding you and he or she take part in is nothing short of powerful.  I had the pleasure of meeting two individuals during my first play-through.  One left quickly, right before the bridges at the beginning.  The other, punkrocker210, stuck with me for the entirety of the game.  The friendship request is pending, but never before have I connected with another gamer with or without being able to speak to each other.  Sending out audible cues to keep appraised of our respective locations and working together to get through the snowy area made for one of the most unique and fun co-op experiences I've ever had.

The simple beauty of this game along with the atmosphere created by the combination of the melodies played and companionship earned have combined to make for a game like no other.  I'd be hard-pressed to classify this as any genre other than 'journey' and that's the kind of powerful developmental chops I'd bet many studios wish they had.  The scene above deserves particular mention as the tempo increases while you skate and slide to the setting sun evoking an almost playful and joyous time prior to the trials ahead. 

Being my first play-through, I made a fair amount of mistakes with the trial and error nature of the game.  To his (or her) credit, punkrocker210 waited when I got behind, signaled me when I lost direction, and followed when I got ahead.  Without speaking and only communicating through spinning in circles, jumping, and small tones, we managed to act as a better team than most Borderlands or Call of Duty players and I don't know any other game capable of that.

In short, I don't want to call this a review.  It's more a collection of my thoughts after being thoroughly emotionally drained by this amazing title.  In just over two hours I got four trophies, experienced an amazing tale (which my mind filled in itself, I'm still sorting out the details), witnessed true beauty in the digital desert, and made a new friend whom I've never spoken one word to.  That my friends is an experience worthy of the term 'art' and one I hope to have again sooner rather than later. 

Who knows?  Next time it could be one of you!

Has anyone else experienced the same?

While playing my grin wouldn't go away as if I was playing Mario as a kid again...

Thanks for reading ladies and gents!

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