They say that the longest journeys begin with a single step, and the steps that you take with Thatgamecompany’s downloadable game of Journey is an experience like few others. Taking a simple adventure and imagining it with beauty, grace, and emotion, Journey does what rival games rarely do and gives its world a kind of character that stirs your sense of wonder. A piece of art as much as it is a game, it pushes the envelope for downloadable games as something will set a precedent for the adventure genre for years to come.


As you begin your journey, players will be given control over a mysterious figured cloaked in red as they travel with their character to a lone mountaintop standing across from the desert plains. Uncovering secrets and hidden puzzles, your figure will be treated to a spectacular collection of sights and sounds along the way as you push towards your ultimate destination and the game’s finale.


From the moment you step foot in Journey’s world, the game overtakes you with its overwhelming sense of beauty. From the grains of sand that fly under your feet or the breathtaking views from atop the tallest mountain peaks, the game resonates with players in its surreal atmosphere of size and scope. The seemingly endless backdrop before you of desert sand impresses upon you the power of your world as the sun magically reflects off of the desert sands to reveal the haunting image of your destination that follows you across the horizon. The changing landscape of the game further offers an amount of variety to your experience. Snow valleys and dark caverns serve to break up the visual pace of the game and compliment the evolving nature of the environment. Your character moves with agility and poise, seemingly matching the unspoken poise of the world around you. 

Journey breathes life into its surroundings with an eye to detail that further captures your curiosity. Great ruins haunt the land with their foreboding presence and carry an unwritten history. Where did they come from? Who made them? It's these questions that Journey doesn’t seek to answer; instead it displays itself as a monument inviting you to make your own conclusions. Wandering across the land, the occasional sight of a strange creature or fellow traveler gives your surroundings a lifelike quality to it. You don’t know who they are, and they don’t know you, but as they aid you in your quest, you feel like you’re making a bond with them as parts of a bigger world. As much as I wished for a definitive story to be attached to the world, I found that crafting my own narrative to be refreshing. 

The true magic of Journey’s experience is captured in the emotion that drives the game’s narrative. Struggling against the crippling winds of the snowstorms provides a feeling of vulnerability and the game’s darkly lit caverns instill a sense of dread in what creatures may lurk underneath them at any moment.

All the while, players will move the sounds of Journey’s phenomenal soundtrack. Decked out with orchestral flair, its music perfectly sets the mood of its scenes and it’s little wonder why it was nominated for a Grammy. It's somber, achingly beautiful melody carries you through its haunting atmosphere as much musically as emotionally. You'll find by the end of your journey that it becomes as inexplicably tied to the world as a character in itself and Journey would hardly be the same without it.

Furthermore, the game in painfully short and you'll no doubt be hard-pressed not to find yourself demanding more. Nevertheless, this conundrum is a double-edged sword that the game additionally benefits from. It’s nearly 2 hr. length will cut your journey short, but in some ways it can be appreciated for preserving your immersion in the game's emotional impact within a single sitting.


What Journey does with gameplay is simple, but its nevertheless appealing in its sense of discovery. Your abilities are tied to the single scarf around your neck and as you find more ribbons throughout your world, you scarf will increase in length along with your abilities accordingly. With no in-game tutorials or hints, Journey leaves your experience entirely up to its players as they begin to unlock and master their powers. Looking to your left, you may see a stepping stone you can climb. To the right, you may find a connecting bridge to work your way to the next level. Jump up and you’ll find yourself flying to your goal with an exhilarating view of the land below you. Many players may find this tiresome, but for those with the patience, the system is utterly satisfying and invites you to use your head without hurting it.

The game also allows for on-line co-op and it matters for your game experience. Alone, you’re adventure will be entirely on your own steam, but with a friend, Journey is very much an engaging play on teamwork. Players will be entertained in uncovering new strategies and your teamwork will be rewarded in how greatly affects your speed of progression. I enjoyed playing alone better and would recommend it if you want to fully enjoy the world all to yourself. 


Final Call:

It’s hard to describe all of what Journey does as a game, but as a testament to the power of emotive storytelling, it's one of a kind. Setting an artistic precedent for the industry, what Journey accomplishes in terms of beauty, charm, and emotional depth deserves nothing but high praise. Journey may certainly be an acquired taste, but for players patient enough for the strange and philosophical, Journey is one of the best exclusives for the PS3 and a once in a generation experience.

Overall Score: 9.25