Oh how the mighty have fallen. Whilst Journey may have been our number one game for 2011 it didn’t arrive, and it now finds itself slipping down to number six in our list for 2012. Of course we’ve had a beta now, so maybe people have revised their expectations a little. On the other hand perhaps the games above it are simple more exciting, I certainly think they are.
For a game that we’ve known about for quite some time, and a game that many have played the beta of, we know surprisingly little about the game. The mild air of mystery that surrounds the game is sort of the point though, it’s something that Thatgamecompany have been careful to maintain. The whole purpose of the game is to explore the world, to find your way through the desert where the game takes place.
To say the game is peculiar or unique would be an understatement, although in the wake of flOw and Flower (Thatgamecompany’s previous projects) perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised. The thing with Journey is that it does sound pretty odd if you try and describe it to others, but it’s a fantastic experience if you manage to sit down and play it.
For a start the game’s use of online is possibly the most interesting I’ve ever seen, and is an approach I don’t think I’ve seen before. Whilst you can encounter other players in your world, you can’t actually talk them via any sort of in game chat system. The only communication you’ll be allowed is a wordless shout, which hardly allows for a long philosophical discussion. However, this seems to enhance the feeling of isolation that’s so important to the general atmosphere of the game.
As for what you actually do in Journey, it all centers around finding your way through the desert. There are no significant landmarks to navigate by, apart from a mountain in the distance. However, you do encounter various ruins as you traverse the sandy landscape, ranging from crumbling buildings to collapsed bridges and even to huge, abandoned structures that seem to have a temple-like quality in their design.
As well as the ruins, the world is full of scraps of cloth the will react to you as you approach. In general, the smaller pieces will make the robes of you character glow faintly and give you the ability to jump higher or even fly, whilst the bigger ones seem to serve some purpose in the world. For example, in the beta these larger strips were generally used for creating bridges or filling the gaps in stone bridges and in more recent footage we’ve seen an underground area where these larger strips seem to be used for climbing, propelling yourself to higher areas of the world.
Even though Journey has slipped down the list a little this year, I think it’s safe to say that we’re still excited about the game. We certainly haven’t been put off after hearing that the beta is about 15 to 30 percent of the final game. That puts the game at about the same length as Flower, and even then Journey seems like a game we’ll give more than one run through.
In all honesty I just hope it does hit sometime in the Spring, as Thatgamecompany have said.