When working as the head studio of a title as atypical as Flower and while also announcing the development of a new game, we automatically generate excitement and eager anticipation. Although we are eager to see the finished product of three years worth of work, our anxiousness will come to an end when we see the final version of Journey. Two hours later, the Journey already behind us, we’re taking a break to bring to you our thoughts in a brand new review of this game. Let’s not waste any time, since we already want to dive into the game once more. Quickly, not another word, let’s dive into it.
Travel boradens the mind
A vast desert. Surrounded by a sea of sand, the only barrier between a rather mysterious character and a mountain that rises in the distance is a sea of pristine dunes. The player will use a shiny mountaintop as a beacon to guide them through a mysterious spellbinding odyssey. Similar to the game Dear Esther, Journey allows the player to create his own story by taking on different paths and using magical glyphs that will help you travel. The freedom experienced in the game let’s you interpret what happened before and gives it a very dreamlike appearance.
Hovering, that’s the word that will keep coming to the player’s mind. The mysterious traveler gracefully glides over the sand and twirls in the air to reach new heights, which gives the player a heavenly feeling that will never be forgotten. The visuals of this game are stunningly beautiful. While amazed by the landscapes, or overwhelmed by the hostile environments, it will be hard not to be emotional. There is no doubt that anyone will remain insensitive to the splendor of certain environments surrounded by the warmth of the sunlight. Furthermore, this blissful contemplation gets rid of any anxiety and claustrophobia, because of the dream likeness of this game. To spare you the details, Journey takes you to a place few games can.
If the new creation of ThatgameCompany didn’t offer too complicated gameplay, and limited interactions with the world of Journey, it is clearly not the same kind of experience as in Dear Esther where gameplay was minimal. We actually find similarities in this game comparable to classic games such as Ico and Prince of Persia, especially in the sense where the feeling of loneliness is experienced by the player when he is not accompanied by anyone. Yes, Journey is not an adventure that you take on by yourself. It is actually possible to travel with another player who is on the same quest as you. A spirit with whom you cannot communicate with other than through musical notes triggered by the buttons on the controller.
We then share a couple of kilometers across the dunes, sometimes working together, and other times going our separate ways. The moments spent with other players are wordless and therefore never breaks the harmony experienced by the mystery that surrounds us. Who is this stranger who helps by constructing a necessary bridge for the progression of the game? Who is this stranger whom helped travel the icy slopes of the shinning mountain? To find out, we will need to finish the game and during the credits, we will see the names of the players whom we encountered during the game. But before that, we will need to overcome obstacles, avoid traps, and of course travel across the vast desert and be guided by mysterious winds.
To do this, we’ll need to collect small pieces of swirling clothes that will charge the traveler’s scarf and allow him to jump higher and hover in the air. Of course, they are hidden from the world, but with the help of mysterious symbols, the player will get the chance to lengthen his magical scarf, which will give him for flexibility with his aerial ballet. Similarly, several hidden areas invite the curious players to explore and get sucked into wandering with the hopes of finding lost ruins after the climb of an endless dune. For those who answer the call, the trip will probably not be unique, not as in one walkthrough but as in one of a kind.
We will therefore highlight the first thoughts and experience, with the hopes of a better understanding of this dessert world, and also win a few trophies along the way. After all, deflating one’s ego never hurt anyone. Anyways, what kind of crazy person would say no to exploring such a beautiful dessert? Although the game is indeed beautiful, it is nonetheless extremely short. For length of the game, which is about two hours, it deserves to be the price of a good (or bad) DVD. Obviously, this may be debated, but we will let you decide weather the quality of the game reflects the cost of it.
Journey is a strikingly beautiful game; it is a mesmerizing work of art and the music is simply beautiful. Diving into the game is an experience like no other both touching and exhilarating. The only “scratch” at this delicate scarf, is a short lived life for the character you play as, at least for those who refuse to leave for another trip. The reasons for doing it (discovering all the hidden symbols, some buildings, and successful test under certain conditions, etc.) are not sufficient for all. Only you can find the answers to the question: should I accept the invitation to the voyage Baudelaire was talking about in the Flowers of Evil? For us, our bags are already packed and ready to go, and the price of this game won’t change our minds from going on this beautiful journey.
Note 1: First motivated by purely technical reasons, we chose not to forward videos to illustrate this review because of the essence of this game. We believe Journey must absolutely be discovered by first hand experience with the controller and we strongly advise you to avoid any gameplay video in order to get the best experience of this game.
Note 2: I'd like to thank my good friend Eric who accepted to take care of the full translation. You would not even read this if it weren't for him. I have been way too busy lately to be able to do it myself. :)
I mean, compare the bizarre texture on Vaan's abs to the crotch and see the massive difference in texels, then look at the lego-brick shoes. They put the detail where you are likely to look. (2 Hours ago)
Though i can certainly agree that a lot more work has been made to make characters look better in FFXII. But a lot of that is keeping textures simple to look decent even if resolution is tiny. (2 Hours ago)
But all the same technical aspects apply to the characters and objects as well. The AA is better emulated as well, but if you ported DD to a modern PC that'd be a moot point. (2 Hours ago)
@Megido: I would agree with you on backgrounds and effects for DD, but on characters, objects, anti-aliasing and resolution for FF12. (2 Hours ago)
Certainly a lot less workarounds to dodge limitations of tiny memory. Look at the obvious tiling in the FFXII shots for example. I mean, that ass-tiling on the wall in the background is pretty bad. (2 Hours ago)
Much more even texel distribution, by far more complex lighting, shaders and particle effects. At LEAST double the poly count and texture resolutions overall. (2 Hours ago)