I hate giving this beautiful game a low score because I loved every minute of it... there were just too few of them.
Video games, compared to filmmaking, photography, and especially literature, are in their infancy as a medium. Journey offers a glimpse at just how astounding this art form can become in the hands of inspired creators, and it is exactly the type of experience that can help elevate the industry beyond the juvenile repetition of "kill everything in sight".
The problem with Journey is that it is infuriatingly short. A new game from a larger studio costs $59.99, which is expensive until you consider the sheer number of hours worth of enjoyment they offer. Games like Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City offer 100+ hours easily, not including their high replay value and bonus content after beating them. Setting aside games of that magnitude, the majority of well reviewed games offer a solid 30 hours of enjoyment for your investment.
Journey cost me $14.99. My girlfriend and I played through the entire game in an hour and forty minutes (let's just say 2 hours, which is really generous when you consider 15% or more of the game is simply watching cut scenes). $14.99 x 4 = $60. 4 x 2 = 8 hours. This is simple math. So $60 spent on most games buys me a minimum of 30 hours of play all the way up to 100+. Yet the equivalent amount of money spent on Journey buys me only 8 hours. This is just not acceptable.
I don't have much money to spend on games, so every dollar counts. I knew Journey was going to offer something fantastic in terms of unique gameplay, so I shelled out my $15. Did the game deliver an innovative and magical experience? YES. But was it worth my $15? Absolutely not. The value simply is not there.
As it is, Journey feels like a sales pitch for the real game, a glorified demo. "Flower", another game from That Game Company, suffered from the same problem. Just as I'm truly falling in love with the game, it's over, and I simply won't be giving this company any more of my cash.
In my opinion, That Game Company has done itself a massive disservice here, along with damaging player trust in independent developers in general. Why can't they deliver at least 10 hours of content? That's all I'm asking for. I don't expect an Independent game to compete with the big players and dish up 100+ hours of play, but less than 2 hours??? I don't get it. They have the engine, they have the character designs, they have all the textures ready to go, the game mechanics are in place... why not create more "levels", a larger world? All the hardest work has already been done. I'm not claiming that area design in a game like Journey is easy, but when all of the game's components are already in place, why not deliver some value to your customers and put in the extra time producing content?
This game is worth $4.99 tops.
While I admire Journey as a piece of artwork, I ultimately feel very cheated by the price/content ratio. It simply does not stand up against the industry standard in any way and it will certainly make me gun shy when considering another purchase in the independent arena.