Summer Gaming Challenge #1 – Journey

I’ve been lazy with writing these (I’ve already beaten my second game!), but no more.  The first game I’ve taken down for my Summer Gaming Challenge is Journey, a title I forgotten about but decided to switch in once I saw someone else put it on their list… and, well, I’m glad I did switch it in.

Journey really is a beautiful adventure.  The graphics are fantastic, and give an amazing atmosphere to the whole ordeal.  The spoon fed story is also great, and leaves a lot open for interpretation.  In terms of the gameplay, it’s simple and easy to progress without getting too stuck, and there’s a palpable reward for exploring the area (basically, it’s easier to move around).

When I went in, I expected to play the whole Journey by myself; it’s been a long time since the game was released, after all.  Most of the first half of the game ended up with me playing alone; it did not impact me negatively really, as I took my time exploring the areas and collecting extensions to my scarf.  At one point, though, I kept hearing chirps (the noises the characters make) and looked around to see, to my surprise, another player a few feet behind me.  From there, everything changed:  Playing with another player and working the puzzles with someone else gave Journey a whole new layer of enjoyment and underlying emotion that it brought the title to new heights.

See, together or alone, Journey is… well, a journey:  A path taken to find the truth, to find peace, to find… anything, really.  When there is someone beside you, it makes the journey that much easier, as you know there’s someone right there beside you, sharing your pain and triumphs alike.  As my partner and myself trekked up the snow-laden mountain, keeping close to each other to keep warm and able to use our dwindled powers (most of our scarves were ripped off when I caught the attention of an enemy), I felt an honest connection between the characters on the screen.  It was a joy to see the two working together, struggling to make it to the end of their trek, and that I was a part of it.

It made it all the more painful that I lost my partner about halfway through the climb up the mountain.  While the player likely disconnected or decided to quit (I was a bit slow, after all), I felt as if my companion had died, and that my avatar had to finish the quest on their own.  Why couldn’t he make it?  Was the cold too much?  Losing the companion at that point made the atmosphere feel all the more real; it made it feel as though I had to push on for my partner’s sake, lest it’ll all be for nothing.  It’s quite impressive that a simple thing that happens online all the time could provide this amount of pure emotional force behind it.  It just goes to show how much attention was put into the product that nothing breaks your immersion into the atmosphere of the game; in fact, in some cases little occurrences might even drive this point home further.

But really, Journey ended up being a beautiful title, and a great start to my challenge this year.  Here’s to hoping I’ll have a great run of classics to keep me rolling through the summer (spoiler alert: I do)!

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