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(all ratings are out of 10)
Video games as art is nothing new, but thatgamecompany‘s concept of building games around the emotions they want the player to feel is fascinating and unique. The idea behind Journey and what it brings to the table represents a genuine step forward that too many young designers seem frightened of. There are many more steps to take, but without Journey the whole process would surely have been slower.
What lets down this title is its lack of any truly meaningful gameplay. The mechanics of movement when flying are beautiful, and a joy to play, and this is backed up by a surprising amount of collectables and secrets that are made more interesting by not being arbitrary. That said, however, the majority of functioning gameplay in Journey is remarkably thin and all-too-often awkward. Repeated plays have you feeling smoother with your avatar, but first impressions leave you wishing you could get more of a trot on.
One of the finest buffets of visual treats in its medium, to not be moved and hypnotised by the game’s aesthetic is to not appreciate art on any level. A constantly breathtaking tour of organically designed environments and locations, there is no point when playing Journey that the graphics don’t grab you by the balls and force you to remember them. Simply outstanding.
Similar to its graphics, the audio of Journey cannot be flawed. From its vibrantly dynamic soundtrack to its meticulous use of foley, not a single noise or orchestral stab sounds out of place. Deeply connected with your gaming experience, there’s really little to say except that Journey‘s soundtrack and effects do not put a single foot wrong. They enhance the game at every single moment.
Journey is a MUST-PLAY work of art that will reward anyone who looks closer with a multitude of insights and epiphanies. A staggeringly deep work, the amount of effort put into its creation is obvious in every grain of digital sand. Slow and contemplative, players should however be aware of its pace and closer dedication to visual and aural quality than gameplay. Not one to push your muscle memory, or have any real interest in skill, you are sure in some way to be let down by its actual mechanics. All that does, however, is prevent Journey from receiving a rare perfect rating, since everything else included in the package is effortlessly mastered. When a game’s working design is able to match the abilities of its production values is when a game becomes truly divine. Unfortunately, that leaves Journey as a particularly gorgeous demigod.