Journey is a deeply affecting and transcendent piece of interactive poetry

User Rating: 10 | Journey PS3
There are no scores in Journey. You don't level up, gain experience, fight enemies, solve puzzles, or really do anything else that you would normally find in a game. The story is wordless, the game an interactive poem filled with moments of powerful intensity, quiet reflection and haunting beauty. There is no stated goal in Journey, just the reflexive desire to reach a mountain far in the distance. To do so you must travel a desert, often alone, yet sometimes in a silent companionship with another nameless, voiceless player. Your only form of interaction with both the world you explore and the players you meet is to emit a single note. The longer you hold it, the more effective the note will be. Instead of a jump button players can hit a button to fly into the air for a short time. This flight is limited by a scarf that is powered by the music you sing to the world and to other players.

Journey is something of symphony, a game built around moments of harmonic beauty that rise to frenzied crescendos before relaxing into periods of mournful adagios as you pass through areas devoid of life yet brimming with emotion. Many times you simply follow your intuition, pushing forward towards that mysterious, majestic peak far in the distance. Other times the game will offer slight glimpses of guidance.

No matter what you are doing, Journey will transport you to and immerse you in its startlingly beautiful world. From the blinding glow of the desert sun, to the dark and ethereal depths of an ancient cave, Journey offers a brilliant artistic vision that never falters. Every moment amazes with reams of visual wonder. And the moving and affecting score is the perfect compliment to the visuals, fading in and out at just the right moments, and running the gambit from contemplative, to devastating, to uplifting, to bombastic. It seems that no matter the action, Journey has a piece of music that fits it.

Journey is a thing of beauty, thatgamecompany's latest attempt at interactive poetry. It succeeds just as astoundingly as Flower did before it. Neither action game nor adventure, Journey defies common genre definitions, preferring to ignore modern gaming principles and instead focus on delivering a powerful, moving interactive experience. Journey will take you no more than a couple hours to beat. You can replay the game to earn trophies, but like Flower before it, Journey is a game of perfect length. An affecting game with no need for extensive replayability or complex multiplayer components, Journey succeeds effortlessly in its goals of providing a unique cooperative journey, one without words, combat, or puzzle solving.

While I could write two or three thousand words on Journey, I don't think that is appropriate in this case. Journey is best experienced for yourself, and I hesitate to describe any specific examples of its mastery of the interactive form. Suffice to say that Journey succeeds on every level, with peerless visuals and music, and simple yet rewarding gameplay mechanics that satisfy with their elegance more than their difficulty.

That's not to say Journey has no tension. Specific moments had my heart racing. But Journey is as much an emotional Journey as it is the Journey of a specific character or the evolution of a certain gameplay mechanic. There are certainly enough games out there which deliver adrenaline laced action or mind boggling strategy. Journey dares to be different, ignoring common conventions and doing what thatgamecompany does best. Journey is the Mozart to most games' Katy Perry, an auteur looming over the bubble gum pop star. And as far as interactive poetry goes in the gaming space, Journey is unparalleled, a stunning accomplishment by a company that consistently breaks boundaries and exceeds expectations. While not for everyone, if you are at all interested in seeing the potential gaming has as an art form then stop reading this review and go download Journey. It comes with my highest recommendation.