The majority of modern video-games use a simple script, which is designed to deliver a short burst of adrenaline every minute or two in order to keep the player engaged. And it usually comes from the thrill of a gun fight or an action-packed race. However, certain games, mostly digital, utilize different techniques to achieve the same level of player engagement. Some, just like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter rely on narrative in order to keep the player in its grasp, whereas Journey refers to much more complex game design tools to achieve much better results.
Throughout the entirety of Journey not a single word is spoken, even the main menu and in-game settings are constrained to no more than 20 words. And one could possibly argue that such approach could discourage a majority of the consumer base, as without any explanation, the plot of the game may be unclear or entirely non-existent to some. However, the peace and tranquility which are prominent throughout the game, thanks to the lack of any dialogue, give you a better sense of the story than majority of AAA titles.
Journey begins by having you rotate the camera around the caped protagonist until you get a clear view of the mountain, which is the focal point of the game’s environment. And the second you lay your eyes upon it, you understand that this is the main objective, that this is where you need to go in order to complete the game. Initially, the mountain that looms over the horizon is the only thing other than the sea of sand that surrounds you. And no matter how curious you are of the world, the first thing that you do is run towards the mountain. And as soon as you make your first step, you understand how complex Journey really is. Yes, Journey is quiet frankly a simple platformer, but beyond its primary facade, hides something much more complex, something eerily beautiful. And with time, the story unravels just like protagonist’s scarf, and once you reach your first beacon of light, which quickly becomes associated with genuine hope, you understand that in a way, Journey is an extraordinary adaptation of Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need. As Journey, just like the work of Leo Tolstoy, is about immensely laborious tragedy filled with strangers who symbolize false hope. And as soon you start transitioning from one area to another, while searching for beacons in order to extend the length of your scarf, you start to realize how meaningless everything is. And the second you enter the light on top of the mountain, you’ll reflect on your journey the same way Pahom did at the end of How Much Land Does a Man Need. A way, which I’ll leave to you to uncover personally, as Journey should be experienced, and not talked about.
While delivering an immense amount of high quality material through its design, Journey‘s excellence doesn’t stop there, as story telling is only a part of its brilliance. Contrary to popular belief Journey is not just about yellow sand, red cloth, and bland ambient score. It features a plethora of different locations that vary from open deserts, derelict sanctuaries, and snow and ice-covered wastelands, all the way to the mystical caves filled with super natural elements, and mountain tops riddled with waterfalls and ancient architecture. And above all, all locations posses their own unique score, which creates an atmosphere that simply, can not be found anywhere else.
Every area in the game is unique, it might not be different in every detail to the one that came before it, but every section of the game does enough to please the eye and to compliment the plot of the game. And once you add the extraordinary score which constantly changes to the mix, Journey becomes something that has to be experienced, and therefore it is not just a simple video game. Even the multiplayer mode, which pairs you with random individuals has to be experienced first hand. As depending on the behavior of the person on the other side of the internet connection, you’ll also experience a secondary story, which will be completely different to the one crafted by the developer. And this adds a tremendous amount of replay value to the game, as every play though, which will take you about two hours, will be completely different to the one before. And therefore will allow you to experience a tremendously distinct and personal story every time you play it, making Journey an experience like no other.