2012 was a difficult time for me, my mom passed away early Feb and I was thrown into turmoil from that moment on, it was sudden and it was quite frankly devastating. So gaming became a bigger part of my life than ever before, I wasn't running away, but I was seeking solace in various game worlds and using the media to soften the blow. Then along came a PS3 game that changed the way I saw things, changed everything really - Journey. I fell in love with this game immediately, it was short, captivating and utterly gorgeous. It presented a view on death and rebirth that was quite literally eye-opening, or it was to me, so I will always have a soft spot for it.
Journey manages something totally amazing on so many levels, but apart from the message you can take away from the game, there's another message that is really important - friendship. You never quite know who you'll be playing with in Journey, or what will happen when you meet another traveler - it's a curious and heartwarming experience and fosters cooperative play unlike any other game before it. Or dare I say it, after. Through a simple set of chirps/whistles and visual cues you can communicate with a fellow traveler in Journey, and it's amazing how creative some people are with this little system.
I've heard folks use it for Morse code, I've seen people develop their own tiny language based on the chirps and whistles and because you can use varying length/pressure to produced different sounds/and visual cues you can actually develop a cipher for it.
You also get a unique symbol that pops up with each traveler, write it down and at the end of the game, you'll be able to see who you journeyed with and if you want send them a little thank you message.
I had some of my best gaming moments on that little game and now I can relive them, since it's cross-save and cross-buy on the PS4. Journey appeared in my download list thanks to this feature, so I installed it and went back - it was just as good as I remembered and beyond the gorgeous graphics, which to me appear to be better on the PS4, the gameplay is just as awesome and intuitive as ever. I was soon able to re-collect all the little symbols to build my scarf to incredible lengths and travel with complete strangers, some of them showed me secrets and some of them learned from my knowledge of the game and memory of where every little hidden thing was.
Not once, but twice did I receive one of the best gestures you can get in Journey...
Two people drew me hearts in the snow, one of them even wrote out a simple thank you.
When they talk about games as art, they talk about art having the power to alter your perceptions of the world, to inspire and to create a change in your emotional state - well, I don't care what anyone says about the games as art argument - Journey is art pure and simple. It brings together utter strangers from all walks of life, gives them a red robe and a cute character design, lets them lose on an amazing but short quest to reach the top of a mountain and understand what that means to them.
To me it means that I'll start my journey again from the beginning each time, but each time I'm a little wiser and I make new traveling companions - now I have my white cloak, a cloak that I earned with pride and display as a guide. If people see that robe they know you've been through the game and found enough of its secrets to earn it, either by yourself or with the help of fellow travelers - and I always feel like it's my duty to help others earn their robe, or show them something they might not know. A seasoned journeyer may also spot that someone's been through several times, since the more ornamentation you have on that robe, the more you've completed your journeys, yet it never seems to matter, it fosters some of the most impressive goodwill in a game you're likely to see.Travelers share secrets, help each other when they can and work in tandem to complete the journey together.
Then you have the music, Austin Wintory and I became friends through the game and he created a gorgeous and moving soundtrack that continues to delight, enthrall and captivate to this day. In fact that's the best thing I can say about the PS4 version of Journey, it's a game that continues to have a deep meaning, delightful gameplay, enthralling setting and superb cooperative feelings throughout. It may have shinier graphics ... but it's still the same Journey and that's perfectly fine to me!
See you out there in the sands!