Journey Review – Climb That Mountain
After making waves on PlayStation consoles, Annapurna Interactive and thatgamecompany have brought the journey of Journey to the PC. The title received a fair amount of attention when it launched in 2012 – does it still provide a compelling adventure seven years later?
The story of Journey is told through its world, rather than through words. Taking control of a hooded creature, a mountain with a glowing spire is your point of focus throughout this title. It is fairly far away though, with a wide desert expanse coming between you and your destination. What follows is a title that takes players through a number of different scenarios on their way to the top.
This approach works wonders in creating an atmosphere. Though there are brief cutscenes that flesh out its world, the game prides itself on showing rather than telling. Journey is a looker – the art direction, camera angles, and overall aesthetics create a world that stands out and has a personality all its own. Some parts remain a little cryptic, but it’s not hard to follow or verbose.
Gameplay follows a similar approach. Prompts pop up at the beginning of the game to show the basics of movement and other functions, but figuring out how things work will come to the player through trial and error. The hooded creature can jump with the aid of certain bits of tapestry or creatures, and a chime can be used to activate things around its world. There is a touch of platforming, but it never gets frustrating due to its lack of a fail state. There are no baddies to conquer, bottomless pits to contend with, or anything else that’ll hinder your playthrough – Journey set out to remove all points of frustration at every step of the way.
Each environment of this title has a different hook to it, whether it be a bridge that must be formed, a tower that must be climbed, or creatures that must be freed. The desert motif is used for most of the title, but each area manages to stay fresh throughout and does not overstay its welcome. The entirety of the game is a bit on the short side – we were able to finish in about an hour and a half – but there was no filler to speak of.
One of the biggest hooks of the game (which could be considered a spoiler) is the fact that a second player can come along for the ride. At random times of the game, a second companion can play Journey alongside you. The chime is your only form of communication – text and voice chat are not available, and players won’t even know the user’s handle until after the game is over. We only had one person join us for a brief portion of the game, but your mileage may vary, depending on the time of play.
Note that the game is not without its technical issues. The computer used to review Journey has some decent specs, but the music would stutter and the framerate would occasionally take a hit. Again, your mileage may vary, but it is still something to consider.
Journey’s journey to the PC is a successful one, barring some minor technical issues. Between its incredible atmosphere and unique mechanics, this is one title worth exploring.
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