Game Review: Journey – PS4

Title Journey
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre:walking, artful, instrumental
Date completed:September 2021
Information on game

Summary review: Remember that time I said I didn’t understand the possible symbolism in the The Last of Us Part II? Well, Journey says “hold my beer”.
Graphics: I enjoyed the graphics. Just enough fidelity and detail to get across what’s happening without getting in the way.
Music: This game pretty much revolves around the ambient music and sound effects and I think it was nailed perfectly. All instrumental, no vocals. I would recommend playing this with a set of really high quality headphones to get the most out of it.
Controls: Very simple controls and they work without issue
Replayability: It’s only about 3 hours long so it could be played again. I’m not sure yet that I need to.
Total score: 95 / 100 – Not exactly easy to rate this game. It’s about the equivalent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: you like what you saw while you were watching it but am not sure what you just saw after words. I actually really like that movie.

Introduction

I vaguely remember when this game was released on PS3 and how a lot of media commented on it how much of a piece of art it was.

When it was put up for free on PS4…must have been 2 years ago…I grabbed it but didn’t play it until now.

This is normally about the time I would say “no spoilers”. But…how would I even spoil this? I just played it and I don’t even know what happened. How would something with no explanation be spoiled? That’s like saying no spoiler for Tenet. Bro, you know what happened in the Tenet? No. No one does. Wow, that’s a random digression. I’m keeping it.

I get it. For sure.

The this game – for lack of a better term – works is the player starts out in a desert and starts walking.

There are never any voices or vocals nor any text on the screen. This is truly a language neutral game. There is an diagram of a gamepad to tell you how to move and when new mechanics are introduce what button to push and hold. It’s all in wordless and letter-less diagrams though.

My review. In animated gif form.
Thanks, Pratt

The player is dropped into a desert, third-person, a relatively simple humanoid form with two lights indicative of eyes and not much else. You can spin the camera all the way around to look but that’s about it at first.

There’s a mountain with a light coming out of it on the horizon and what appears to be ruins with some kind of floating confetti over it within a short walking distance.

Well that’s all you get at the start. Eventually you get an ability attached to your scarf along with a “hold x”. And later you can “hold circle”. Well it’s just the gamepad diagram. But you can get the gist.

As you can gather within the first five seconds of the game your journey is to reach that mountain with the light coming out of it. There are some open areas along the way. You can release more confetti and upgrade your scarf. The confetti helps with that.

There is at least one instance the stealthily inserts another human player into the environment with you. There’s no voice chat, no way to type text to the other player, no name, just a figure identical to your own and a chirp noise you can make by pushing circle. It’s not really co-operative. You just kind of wander around an open area for a while. I suppose this depends if anyone else happens to be playing Journey at the same time you are. Hard to believe after all this time there would be players queued up to join a random ongoing game. The experience is completely seamless.

I can tell this game was made with a minimal amount of barrier to entry. By which I mean the controls are very simple and introduced immediately and there isn’t really a fail condition. In fact there is no HUD of any kind, no inventory, nothing at all. It’s made in such a way someone who has never handled a gamepad before could play through it without a problem.

Don’t Stop Believin’

Get it? Because that’s a song by the band Journey and the game is called…forget it.

I’m almost positive there is a story going on here. There’s ruins, there are some challenges. Should probably put that in finger quotes. Just enough noteworthy things you can refer to it as “my journey”. There are enough ruins and dream like experiences with tall almost alien-like figures that I can definitely say a story is being told to you via your character and the journey.

Well you start out one way, you learn somethings, you go into darkness and avoid some trouble, you emerge from darkness into snow, you find out scarfs are over-rated (if I were older and/or British I would have a Dr. Who reference about now but since I’m not and not…insert your own joke here). Eventually you make it to the mountain with the light. Does that make you enlightened? Hmmm. I’m going to go with yes.

Conclusion

It’s only 3 hours long, it’s not broken for lack of human players (I still encountered two players somehow) and it’s enjoyable ride while it lasts. Or journey. Enjoyable journey. I can’t think of a reason to not play it. Unless you’re just more into Call of Duty. Not sure why you’d consider it if that were the case.


Metadata

Method of control used Regular PS4 gamepad
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) n/a
Hardware requirements: n/a
Supports 21:9 aspect ratio screens?n/a
Device(s) tried on PS4 (non-pro)
TV2020-era 55″ 4k TV with HDR specialness
Initial setup required No options
Sound setup5.1 surround system/receiver
Total time to completion~3 hours (the game and PS4 don’t track time elapsed so best guess)
difficulty levelNo difficulties to choose from
Random assortment of meta data

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