One debate that has been present for years now is if games are art, mainly due to a lack of recognition in the mainstream media, and the general perception of games as child’s play. But from the moment you play Journey, that won’t even be a debate anymore, being one of the most unusual and emotional examples of entertainment I’ve ever been in touch with, a true piece of art.
But why should you play Journey?
In Journey you start as a robbed figure in a desert with no HUB to guide you, nothing to show you where to go, except for a mountain and a flash of light in the distance. And that ends up being the ultimate destination of the game, that surprises you every time you travel through the various sectors, one more beautiful and mysterious than the previous one.
Controls are incredibly simple, with the player only being able to walk, jump, fly, and emit a shout or a musical note, with the volume depending on how you press the button, all in tune with the background music. The jump is influenced by the magical scarf worn by the figure, allowing you to even fly depending on its size, with a need to recharge its energy, and that can be grown by absorbing glowing symbols, allowing you to remain airborne longer.
One thing that really surprised me was how the multiplayer is effective, being the best experience I’ve had in my life with this mode. You can’t talk with the players you run into, and the only way to communicate with them is with the aforementioned notes and shouts, and it may sound weird, but despite using no words, I truly felt like I successfully communicated with people who I didn’t even know their PSN ID’s. And every sound turned into a way of forming plans, warning about possible dangers, show your location, being a lot more interesting than any Titanfall or Battlefield match I’ve ever played.
The visuals are breathtaking, being a great example that an amazing art direction can surpass AAA graphics anytime, with many moments where I just wanted to stop and savour the beauty around me, with magnificent and unique environments, that make you feel minuscule in such expansive places, that from the beginning seem that will remain the same, but after a specific moment, you go to places that you would’ve never expected and that never fail to amaze.
All greatly enhanced by an inspired soundtrack that adapts dynamically to the gameplay, fitting perfectly in every moment. Being a crucial park to making Journey a spiritual and personal experience, involving the player and guiding through every story beat and locale, never trying to move the player, but doing it naturally, managing to give me goosebumps and making me care not only about the mysterious figure, but also about the world and the players around me.
I’ve always heard about how it was a special experience, and after I played, I can say it really is, few games moved me like Journey. And it’s an example that you don’t need to create huge worlds, complex systems, thousands of lines of dialogue, or even be a fast paced shooter to create something beautiful and remarkable. If you never saw games as art, play Journey, your mindset with undoubtedly change.