When the previous console generation came around a decade ago, I pretty much skipped out on the PlayStation 3, went over to the dark side with the Xbox 360 and laughed as Sony failed time and time again to win me back. As such, I was not privy to the Thatgamecompany’s bullshit “art games” flOw and Flower. But for some odd reason at the time, I was drawn to the aesthetic of Journey and decided to play it. Too bad, though: it was fucking terrible.
Like some sort of rash that will never go away, Sony has decided to bring Journey over to the PS4, because I guess people were really clamoring for all of Thatgamecompany’s interactive wallpapers to be on the system? Maybe those fans hoped to make a night of it and marathon all three games… then after killing those couple of hours, have the rest of the night to do something better?
A Journey Best Not Taken
As with anything “art”… it is subjective. That you may or may not like it is of no consequence to what the piece of art is trying to convey. As Super Mario Bros is the bulk of my gamer DNA, Journey did nothing for me then, and it really does nothing for me now.
Journey, unbeknownst to me at the time, was when I really started losing faith in the games press as a whole. To hear several of them relate the “experience” they had with Journey, I found ludicrous. People would get choked up and find the “story” to be profoundly emotional and deep. You could say Journey attempts these things, but they’re so shallow that it’s embarrassing just how worked up people got over it.
I found Journey as a “piece of art” could perhaps be interpreted as a satirizing of the game press’ efforts to peddle sub-par “indie games” on to gamers, who then scoop them up to not be left behind and “not with it” or some nonsense. Even more galling to me was this mass relation of “This is comparable to a movie experience wherein I pay $15.”
But games can be so much more, and Journey definitely was not worth $15 I paid in 2012. It’s not even worth the $0 I “paid” for it now as a PlayStation Plus member! Even as an experience that could evoke something out of the viewer, it fails. “It’s not the destination, but the journey,” and the notion of reincarnation or some bullshit… give me a break, games have been playing with that idea since the dawn of video games.
Most of the “game” of Journey is essentially pushing forward on the analog stick. There’s one goddamn enemy in the game, a flying worm beast of some sort that will eliminate half of your scarf if it spots and grabs you. Admittedly, I sacrificed my little Jawa to the flying beast, thinking I would game over or something. The loss of scarf was super-aggravating, but turned out to be pretty useless.
Again, as a “game,” Journey isn’t very good. If viewed as a “game,“ then we’ve seen stuff like this before and it’s been executed better. There’s no real challenge to be had; the puzzle elements are so light as to be nonexistent. The only real challenge is on your thumb to keep pushing forward, and your ability to stay awake through its lethargic literal crawl to the end. Spoilers: you die.
You’d think something coming from Thatgamecompany would be wholly more profound than “You go on a journey and you die unceremoniously at the end… oh look, here‘s a list of ALL the fellow ‘travelers’ you met and helped along the way! Fin.”
The PlayStation Store claims that Journey has “stunning visuals,” but aside from one scene where you SSX your way through some dunes and ruins, it’s just bland desert and sandstorm nonsense clogging up your screen for the length of time it takes you to get through it; a ridiculous waste of higher resolution and a faster framerate promised with this re-release.
The other problem with Journey is the length. A lot of reviewers are still leaning on this “two hour” completion time. Sure, if you’re one of those assholes who likes to stare in awe at the “stunning visuals” of a game for inordinate amounts of time, it might take two hours. I’d say it’s more a fierce hour-to-hour-fifteen at best. There’s nothing to really do besides jump-float around like an asshole and mash the “chirp” button over and over again. Maybe if you’re into lengthening your scarf, you can dig up those symbols that do that. There’s really not much to Journey.
My biggest complaint against Journey still remains the $15 price. Regardless of the “experience,” it’s a beautiful tech-demo at best and not worth the money. Had there been more “game” attached to the “experience” of Journey, I could see the value proposition being a good one, as this is, after all, highbrow indie game territory.
The one positive that Journey does have at the very least is that it isn’t trying to shovel some SJW nonsense down your throat while you play it. Your best bet currently on the PS4 still remains Rocket League… now that is an awesome game!