Status: Finished Journey several times over, just need to finish grabbing those trophies
Trophies: 9 of 14

When Microsoft fails to give me the amazingly different and unique IP (intellectual property) I crave, I know I can turn to my PS3. Betsy doesn’t get as heavy a workout as Betty, her 360 counterpart, but she knows that when she does, she is about to be part of something truly special.

ThatGameGompany’s masterpiece has me going back for thirds, fourths, and fifths. If digital food had calories, I’d be too fat to get off my couch by now. Journey is indeed that delicious to behold. Stunning isn’t a strong enough word to describe the eye candy I’ve been ingesting these last few days. I can tell you it’s going to be ages before I get the Return trophy because I can’t see myself waiting a week to play this again anytime soon. Daily exposure is on my menu for the next month at least.

As told completely through visuals, Journey tells the tale of a civilization that once inhabited the land. Beginning in the desert with a goal of reaching a grand mountain in the distance, you will follow in the footsteps of your ancestors as you fight the elements and traverse a great distance to make your way home.

I’ve played both flOw and flOwer and loved them, but the beautiful, wordless storytelling and direction of Journey has trumped it’s predecessors. While all three of the PSN exclusives embrace the “feel” aspect that TGC advocate, Journey is definitely the most successful. The immersive  feeling of trudging or sliding through sand greatly varies from trudging through the snowdrifts and massive winds as I neared the mountain goal. And as a Canadian used to tromping through waist-deep snowdrifts and 50/kph winds in the dead of winter, I can assure you that the way TGC presented Snow is exactly dead on.

For the first level of the game as you make your initial walk through the desert expanse toward the first cluster of massive buildings known as the Hub, you’ll notice a mountain in the distance that the game automatically focuses the camera on. Without a word, Journey has told the player that your goal is the mountain and the beam of light at its peak. Once you’ve reached the Hub, you may notice other players exploring the world with you. Multiplayer in Journey is encouraged but not a requirement; if you want to spend your time exploring every nook and cranny alone or team up with another person who wants to help guide you to some of the more elusive secrets, the choice is yours.

Head toward the mountain with a Companion or alone

Communicating with other players or the ribbon creatures that will aid you on your travels toward the mountain is done with the push of a button. The circle button is your voice: a simple chime that can call the ribbons to you to replenish the energy in your scarf or to beckon your Companion to follow. Along with that chime is a glyph that appears over the players’ heads that is unique to them for that particular run through the game. At the end of your Journey you will be able to see the PSN tag that matched the glyphs of those you spent time with. These are randomly assigned at the start of each new quest so it’s very likely you’ll see the same symbols several times.

There are other glyphs to be found along the way, each one adding length to your scarf. It is with this energy that you can jump and fly; the longer the scarf, the longer you can soar. Most levels have three or four of these for you to find, with some hidden and others in plain sight. Find all of these and you will be able to don a special outfit at the start of your next adventure. I am currently searching for the last three that I need to unlock this item in my game.

I absolutely love gliding over this bridge

Some may argue that Journey is too short, as most of the time you can finish within 90 minutes. My response is that it’s all about discovery. The first time through everything is fresh and there is so much to take in that you may be distracted by one thing and miss several others. Each time you revisit a level it seems there is something more to find that you missed previously.

Overall Opinion

I have been waiting for what seems like ages for a game like Journey to come along and remind me that there really is more to gaming than the same old stuff we get year after year. Sure, I love those adventures as well, but the experience one has with Journey is unlike anything else. It’s calming zen-ness, a perfect blend of music, stunning visuals and relaxing atmosphere, is what makes Journey so special and brings you back for more.

If you haven’t picked up any of ThatGameCompany’s PSN masterpieces or if you just prefer hard copies in your game library, don’t fret! Sony is releasing a collection of all three at the end of August in 2012 for $30, available at your favourite retailers and Amazon.

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