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Hands On: Journey

It's not the destination.

thatgamecompany’s two previous PlayStation 3 titles – Flow, and Flower – carried a unique, deliberate sense of mystery and discovery that most games would never dare attempt. Minimal on-screen clutter, a complete lack of instructions and notably simple but original controls and game rules meant that players felt like they were exploring a world that was entirely new and untouched, and unique to their own experiences. Flower, in particular, struck a chord with anyone willing to give it a go – a beautiful singular concept that provided much needed originality in a crowded download market.

Experiment and explore.
Journey, the studio’s third game and arguably the most eagerly anticipated, doesn’t break any of the traditions above. Indeed, upon starting the game you’re left alone in the middle of an expansive desert without clue or direction, and it’s only through experimentation that your shrouded avatar starts to glide over the shimmering sands, red cloak blustering behind you as you gracefully make your way over to a small series of rock formations.

Progression, although I’m sure the developers wouldn’t want to label it so objectively, is much like Flower – at least in the section we played. As you explore your surroundings it becomes clear that cloth is Journey’s most interesting element, and by discovering the locations of fabric in each area your character gains the ability to jump, illustrated by markings on its scarf. As the game progresses cloth becomes more important and, along with a series of ancient obelisks and ruins, becomes the key to the various puzzles that litter the vast desert.

Journey’s story looks like its going to be as open to individual interpretation as Flower, and perhaps more so – this isn’t a game with clearly defined exposition although certain things do seem to bookmark crucial parts of the tale – large gates that punctuate the landscape present a character that mirrors your own, imparting clues and subtly changing your appearance in a way that will hopefully come together towards the end of the game and go some way to providing an explanation to what’s going on.

We didn’t get chance to demo Journey’s multiplayer aspect, although we have seen it running in the past and the concept of playing through the game with an unknown partner is a truly exciting one – Journey looks it’ll have plenty of areas to discover off the beaten path and the simple communication between players is particularly endearing. But regardless, with time finally spent with Journey, unrushed and leisurely, it’s clear that the game is something special – the visuals are gorgeous, the audio purposefully understated and the puzzle/platformer mechanics rather captivating.

  1. jbni
    Since: Apr 2010

    I’m REALLY looking forward to this. Any word on a release date yet? If you guys got a hands-on does that usually mean it’s ‘around the corner’?

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:03.
  2. Kevatron400
    Drake, baby.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Sounds wonderful (and looks amazing, those screenshots – wow). I can not wait.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:03.
  3. Gastos84
    Since: Apr 2009

    Even without the above words I am really interested in Journey. Having read that, this is now on my must-get list. Looks and sounds absolutely brilliant.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:04.
  4. BIGAL-1992
    Since: Jan 2009

    *drools at screenshots* Must get money for this.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:06.
  5. gaffers101
    Since: Oct 2008

    Sounds great! I loved Flower, didn’t play Flow, but feel I should give it a try befor I play Journey.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:11.
  6. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    Just wow, can’t wait.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:13.
    • bunimomike
      Since: Jul 2009

      Same here, Chris. I can’t get enough of the damn thing. The beauty of it all looks to rival Flower, if not take one step further.

      Still haven’t a clue about how the game will feel and I’m now beyond caring. Gimme, gimme, GIMME!

      Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 13:42.
      • simplebob
        Since: Mar 2009

        watched the E3 vid on PSN last night which I think is the same one here on TSA. Watching on the big screen you can see the sand has texture and really is very lovely. Playing this will definitely be a unique experience no matter what the gameplay.

        Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 14:34.
  7. simplebob
    Since: Mar 2009

    “eagerly anticipated” oh yes indeed

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:33.
  8. nofi
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    No date yet, sounded like the devs were still deep in QA/testing.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:42.
  9. MadJunkBoy
    Since: Aug 2010

    will there be a demo of this?? really need to try this cuz everybody seems to be almost more excited about this than UC3… :P

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:42.
  10. jimmy-google
    Since: Feb 2009

    Keeps reminding me of the headless monks in Doctor Who

    Comment posted on 10/06/2011 at 12:44.

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