TSA’s Top 100 of 2011 – #1 Journey

100 articles, 61 days, 42,925 words and 1,912 comments later, we’ve finally reached the end. TheSixthAxis’s most anticipated game of 2011 is Journey.

Surprised? You’re not the only one. In fact, after all the votes were tallied and formulae punched into the master spreadsheet, when Journey surfaced to the very top of the list I literally triple-checked the underlying math to make sure we somehow hadn’t inexplicably fallen victim to a case of double-counting. It was clear, however, simply by looking at the votes cast (and, breaking with tradition, those votes were: 10, 10, 7, 8, 8, 10, 10, 8, 10, 7 – for an aggregated score of 8.8/10) that Journey not only garnered high scores in general, but also possessed that one primary quality necessary to win – consistency.

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I won’t be divulging exactly what other games received by way of votes, but glancing at the top ten statistics in front of me it’s abundantly clear that, as is natural in any democratic collective review process, not everything is to everyone’s particular taste. Dead Space 2 received a 5. Uncharted 3 got a really low vote from someone who obviously isn’t enamoured with Drake and his high-adventure global gallivanting. Sacrilege! We hear you exclaim. Not really. Just because I like the Uncharted and Dead Space franchises doesn’t mean everyone else does. I gave Hitman 5 just that, a 5. Someone else gave it an 8.

But we’re in danger of focusing too much on the process and its justification rather than what is an absolutely stellar result for developer thatgamecompany. Journey’s achievement is that, despite different opinions and varied gaming preferences, the title managed to pique everyone’s gaming radars, with not one person in any way dismissing the PSN exclusive title outright.

The source of this appreciation is undoubtedly found in thatgamecompany’s previous releases, most notably flower. Let’s be honest here, flower is not everyone’s cup of hippy-flavoured tea but it does possess something in an area that is leaps and bounds ahead of the vast majority of the other 2011 titles that have graced this list. Innovation. And it’s this pristine inventive attribute that has elevated Journey up from being an indie title some people will likely enjoy to a monumental juggernaut of creativity.

Journey is tricky to describe. A social experiment exploring concepts of communication, individuality and personal interaction, Journey presents a sandy online world players can opt to inhabit on their own and complete puzzles, or choose to do so in the company of others. If it’s the latter, the passing of these other people will be evident from such things as their footsteps slowly eroding away in the ever-shifting dunes or as figures standing stoically in the distance. With the removal of all identifying markers (your PSN handle is not displayed) in conjunction with intentionally not supporting voice or text chat, the experience of meeting fellow travellers in this dusty land becomes a more primal, stripped-down occurrence. It’s different, we’ll give it that, but it’s the style of the title and the promise from a studio we’ve quickly taken to our hearts that transforms Journey from being a novel, quirky game to something we can’t wait to see in full flow.

Are we saying Journey will be the best title of 2011? Absolutely not. Are we claiming it will surpass the likes of Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2 and a host of other titles we could rattle off in terms of enjoyment or technical wizardry? Hardly. In terms of raw anticipation, however, expectation based on the creativity and boundless possibilities shown in thatgamecompany’s previous titles, Journey takes the prize, and it takes it with aplomb. No other title has instilled a sense of wonder and excitement in us collectively than that of Journey. We really have no idea what we’re getting, how it will play, or even if it will be any good. But that’s part of the mystique; the fact that the premise is bold and unknown, difficult to describe, something fresh and appealing in a medium bogged down with an unending torrent of shooters and action titles.

We were surprised when Journey magically appeared at the top of our list like the noble, shrouded magi seen in its trailers. The more we talked about it, though, the more we realised that this surprise was definitely of the “pleasant” nature. Some will disagree with Journey’s lofty placement on this list, and that’s absolutely fine. Others might suggest that this is our way of going for the shock tactic; picking a game that few would have thought likely to grace the top of any list purely for the sake of controversy. I can assure you that this is not true. As I believe I mentioned in the comment section of a previous entry, the math does not lie. Journey is our democratically elected most anticipated game of 2011. We’re very happy with our choice.

Final note: There has been a lot of debate in the comment sections, especially in the Top 10 of this list, with people predicting what titles would make it to the end. We really enjoyed hearing the suggestions and regret, obviously, being unable to chime in with our thoughts on the matter. At least with any degree of clarity.

There are two games that consistently came up as potential contenders for high placings – Mass Effect 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Tomorrow, on New Year’s Day, a follow-up article to this list entitled “TSA’s Top 100 of 2011 – The Lost Games” will be published. This article will go someway to explain why the aforementioned – and other – titles are not on this list. The short version is: yes, obviously, they should be. The long version is a little more complicated than that, however, as I’m sure you will see.

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80 Comments

  1. I’m not that interested in Journey tbh, it doesn’t look that good because not much info has been released about it. I’ll need more videos + a demo before I think about buying it.

    • Forgot to mention, great stuff Kovacs with all the Top 100 articles! Next year we expect Top 200 of 2012! ;P

    • Here’s your trailer:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ptuOWjYwSA

      Here’s your behind the scenes video:
      http://www.gametrailers.com/video/journey-interview-gttv-extended/708507

      You will get more videos but that should be enough to sell mostly anyone on the premise. If not, fine, this sort of thing might not be for you. There will not be a demo.

      • Thanks, although they’ve already been posted on TSA and I’ve watched them.
        Btw, are you related in anyway to thatgamecompany? I’ve noticed your comments on this and especially as your new, it seems like you signed up to respond…
        Welcome to TSA anyway! :]

      • Yes I registered to reply =). I’m an associate producer at Sony Computer Entertainment America. I work in Foster City so I don’t have any hand in thatgamecompany’s stuff down in the LA/Santa Monica area but I know plenty about their project and I thought I’d at least clarify the demo thing so you aren’t bummed out later.

    • not only that… but this is above Uncharted, Killzone, Infamous and more? REALLY?!

  2. Nice to see a title fully deserving of peoples attention receive the appropriate exposure. Journey looks set to be an awesome title.

  3. That’s a surprise.

  4. Wow I’d never heard of this game until now. Looking forward to it and kudos on the interesting reads over the Christmas period.

    • Me too! But ill look out for it in the future.

  5. So is it like a Flower-come-ICO-come-LBP ? I’m lost…..
    Looks ok, I’d maybe be more Interested if I knew more about it but for now it’s just a case of wait and see.

  6. I have never heard of Journey and i’ve never played Flower so this was a suprise (as i’m sure it is for others too). But, it the TSA staff are this excited about it then i’m sure it’s gonna be worth it.

    *whistles and watches potential chaos unfold below my comment* :D

  7. Well, we’re finally at the end. Looks like this will be a download on launch day. If I enjoy it as much admit did flower, it’ll be a winner.

    • *much as I did – stupid iPhone!

      • making mistakes on purpose is not the best way to show off your ipod :P

      • I’ve had my iPhone 4 since launch lol. The autocorrect can do your head in sometimes lol

      • i have a touch, no autocorrect but a hell of a lot of grammar mistakes

      • PSP has a lot potential, but its nothing like the PS3 browser for non-pc net browsing

  8. Simply awesome, can’t wait!

  9. I can’t wait for Journey, so this is a good result for me! At first I wasn’t sure about the online, but having seen and read more about it, I think it should be good.

    The Top 100 has been a great series (I think I’ve read all of them), can’t wait to see these “lost games” as well!

  10. Never even heard of it but after a little research it seems very like a very good ides. TSA as usual, you’re awesome. Keep it up.

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