Why you should play Journey

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?

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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What Sunset Overdrive means to Spider-Man PS4

Announced last week confirming rumors during the Sony press conference at E3, the exclusive Spider-Man PS4 game came with one surprise, instead of being developed by Sucker Punch as reported, Insomniac is the studio behind the project. And its history of quality franchises provides a lot of expectations despite the lack of details regarding the project, mainly due to an Xbox exclusive.

One of the biggest endeavors of Marvel Games is part of a strategy that changed the focus of the company, investing in quality over quantity, resulting in the Disney Infinity series cancellation and the partnership with Telltale. The company chose Imsomniac as the one responsible for a new Spider-Man project after years of lackluster games, and Sunset Overdrive shows exactly why this is the right studio to helm it.

Released in October 2014, Sunset Overdrive received rave reviews, being considered by many outlets as one of the best games of the year, and as the best Xbox exclusive until that moment. With a strong influence of games like Infamous, Jet Set Radio, Ratchet & Clank (another title of the studio), it reminded me at moments of one of my favorite franchises ever, Tony Hawk, which had a cameo of Spidey in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, but what features show they are a good fit for this project?

The World

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Located in the fictional of Sunset City, one of the most striking features is the beauty of the world, an incredibly colorful city, with a diverse landscape. And that was a breath of fresh air after a 360/PS3 generation that was famous for its lack of color. It was filled with enemies, here human turned zombies after drinking a new energy drink, gangs and robots from different sizes from FizzCo, being one of the first real “next-gen” titles to be released.

It had neighborhoods that went from a very technological one to a Chinatown based area to a seaside pier, populated by some of the craziest characters you’ll ever see. Like an RPG group that you run missions for, a gang formed by luchadoras, a former soldier, scientists, just to name a few, all with an amazing soundtrack composed of punk bands, creating an atmosphere of pure and reckless fun. Something that seemed to lack on the last Spidey games, with NYC feeling lifeless and in desperate need of life and interesting characters.

Combat and Traversal

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Here’s the main reason why I believe this is the biggest motivation behind this whole idea, the way that traversal works, with the mantra of never stopping. Your main character is incredibly slow when on the ground, creating a flow that is beautiful when in motion, with a mechanic that reminds the Tony Hawk series, grinding, zip lining, with an amazing map design that allows it to continue like a song, with combos increasing the power of attacks. And after a moment in the game, you gain the power of air dashing, allowing you to never touch the floor, something crucial for a game with a hero like Spider-Man, known for its fluid and plastic movement.

The combat is divided between melee, with weapons like a crowbar, a knight sword that can spit fire when upgraded and one that really reminds that a light saber that can inflict damage.  However, they are not as effective as the insane arsenal, with some of the craziest weapons I’ve ever seen, like one that shoots fireworks, another exploding teddy bears. And each weapon is upgraded through use and enhanced with amps and overdrives, unlocking new possibilities, all happening as you grind, dash, with a pace that never falls down, something that for a mobile hero could make a great gameplay experience.

The Fun Factor

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Another positive feature of this game is the levity of the script, with an ordinary story that becomes better due to a wacky cast that never takes anything seriously, always ready to poke fun at the zombie genre tropes, the video game market, consumerism, among other subjects. The main character that you can create as a woman, man, with a big number of options of customization, has a Spidey personality, joking amidst the fights.

I know that all those signs don’t mean that we are necessarily going to have a groundbreaking title or a revolution when it comes to the superhero genre, but the chances of having a really fun entry are big. And Sunset Overdrive had a mindless gameplay, in the best way possible, without having an amazing story, but having something that seems to lack in most games nowadays, fun. When I think of Spider-Man I think of a funny character, ready to make jokes at any moment, not afraid of anything, and when I played Sunset Overdrive, I felt this way.