Journey review

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Journey initially came out in 2012 for the PS3, but since it was included in the PSN Re-Play sale, I decided to give it a try on the PS4.  When the game came out, it was widely praised, earning a score of 92 on Metacritic and winning various Game of the Year awards.  Going into the game, I didn’t really know what to expect.  The only thing I had really heard about the game was that it had a fantastic soundtrack and was short.  And both of those things are definitely true.

The game is about 2 hours long, depending on how much exploring you do.  And really, that’s the only thing concrete I can tell you about the game.  What’s the story about, you ask.  Well, that’s a very good question.  I wish I could tell you what the story is about, but I really don’t know.  I know how I interpreted the story, and I’ll share that with you.  Of course there will be spoilers ahead. 

Personally, I think it’s a story about the afterlife.  You yourself are some type of being in a brown robe, and you start off by traveling through a barren desert with ruins scattered about.  Here, you have to do some puzzle solving with your limited abilities, to unlock the next area.  When you unlock the next area, a much larger, but similar being, dressed all in white, cryptically shows you pictures of what happened to the world.

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But it doesn’t seem like there’s much point in explaining the history to the character.  Yeah sure, it fills in details of what happened for us so we know, but the character doesn’t appear to gain anything from this knowledge.  This knowledge isn’t used to avert further disasters.  In fact, the motivation of the character really isn’t known.  You start in the middle of the dessert, and see a large mountain off in the distance.  You’re journey is constantly leading you to this mountain.

Why?  What’s at the mountain?  Why is the mountain so important?  Those are very good questions, to which there aren’t really any answers.  You go through this journey, without much difficulty to start.  Then, quite suddenly, you run into mechanical type creatures that are actively destroying these little ribbon creatures that help you by powering up your abilities.  These monstrosities will also attack you, if they find you.  The attack destroys part of the scarf you had been building up during the journey.  The longer the scarf, the longer your powers last.

So, these creatures attack you, and there comes a point when you’re near the top of the mountain that you’re in the middle of a snowstorm.  You become snow covered, you eventually slow down your movement, and just collapse.  Here, the large, white, angelic beings that have been showing you what had happened, help you.  They restore you to full strength, and it’s an almost celebratory flight the remaining way to the top of the mountain.

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You reach the top of the mountain, walk into an opening in the peak where it is split, the screen goes white, and eventually you no longer see the character.  And that’s it.  The credits roll, you’re shown the other players that you anonymously ran into along the way.  That’s right.  There’s a random multiplayer aspect where two players can help each other out.

But anyways, that ending really makes me think that this is all a metaphor for death, and ascension into the afterlife.  I believe when you wake up in the desert to start the game, that symbolizes your spirit waking up in purgatory.  Your spirit then has to come to terms with the fact that your dead, which is why the “angels” show you what had happened.  As you get closer to heaven, the journey becomes more difficult, with forces actively trying to keep you from making it.  Then just when things look to be finished, your faith is rewarded, and the angels help you complete your journey.

While the game looks beautiful, and the soundtrack is pretty good, this game is definitely not for everyone.  If you like a clear narrative and story, then this game is probably not for you.  Same thing if you like clear controls and directions on what to do.  But if you feel like you have 2 hours to spare for an artistic experience, then I say go for it.

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