Sunday, July 10, 2016

Journey #review

I’m not the world’s greatest gamer – just ask my husband creature. I’m a latecomer to console games, and spent the first few hours of playing Elder Scrolls V walking into walls, trees, bears... While (at time of writing) I’m still afflicted with Dragon Age Inquisition, I’ve also taken a little time out to play an indie game the nice young man at BT Games at our local mall said I’d enjoy.

According to Wikipedia, Journey is an indie video game developed by Thatgamecompany and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3. It was released on March 13, 2012, via the PlayStation Network.

Okay, that’s the nitty gritty. I bought my copy for PS4, and never before have I appreciated surround sound as much as I did with this one.

This is a pretty game, and if you’re not one for scenarios where you crawl up walls or engage in intricate button mashing to kill your many-tentacled opponent, this one might suit you. The nice young man said Journey is very restful, so yeah, there he’s spot on.

If you’re playing this as part of your PS Plus, you stand the chance of meeting other players in real time, which is kinda sweet, because the only way you can communicate is by prancing around with the little robed figure you play or pinging them with your special powers. You’ll recognise other gamers who’ve played this before, because their cloaks will have extra patterns on.

At its heart, Journey is a simple quest game. Your character travels through a ruined, desert landscape towards a mysterious mountain. Along the way you solve simple puzzles and, by moving the controller, you can control how your character moves. If you get it right you can even fly (a little). Unlike the first time I played Elder Scrolls V, I soon got the hang of this (and you can possibly even let your octogenarian mother try this at home).

The graphics are simple, yet achingly exquisite, but then again I’ve always had a soft spot for ruined landscapes. And, while I don’t think it’s possible for you to die in this game, there was a dark moment where I was genuinely afraid (you’ll know it when you see it) and my heart beat quite a bit faster. The only frustration I had was near the end, where I had to co-ordinate with the floaty jellyfish things in order to fly. Timing and aiming skills were useful. But then, as I’ve stated, I’m not the world’s greatest console player.

A word on the music – it’s by Austin Wintory and is beautiful, haunting and indescribably atmospheric. Go get it on Bandcamp.

All in all, this is a soft, mystical experience. There are no surprises – I had an inkling there’d be some sort of mystical resolution, and I was correct. But I finished with a soft sigh and smile. This game is deceptively simple, but it’s really, really special.

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