It’s difficult to be surprised by videogames these days.
There’s precedent for almost every new game, making it easily relatable to a previous title. “It’s a cross between Grand Theft Auto and Bomberman” or “the puzzles of Tomb Raider with the graphics of Halo”. You know what I mean.
So when a game comes along that’s difficult to compartmentalise into existing genres, it’s exciting because you genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Journey is the new game available via the Playstation Network, developed by That Game Company (whose previous standout titles include Flower and Flow). There is no interface, no dialogue, no intro movie, and no tutorial. It is some of the best level design I’ve ever seen, because it leads you through the game without having to tell you where to go.
Perhaps the most unique aspect is the co-op multiplayer component, something I didn’t even realise the game offered until another character the same as mine appeared about 10 minutes into playing. At first I thought it was an NPC, designed to help me navigate some of the puzzles in the game. It wasn’t until the character started following ME, and doing distinctly non-NPC movements that I realised this was another person, also travelling along the same path as me.
Together – with no ability to communicate outside of occasional pulsing blips – we followed and lead each other through some of the most sublime and touching environments I’ve ever seen. The titles is appropriate in every sense of the word, and while this journey will only take you 3 to 4 hours to complete, the last perilous steps towards the inevitable goal and the elated final sequences are nothing short of epic.
After the credits roll you’re shown a list of PSN gamer tags, the identities of your companions along the way. I decided to add them to my friends list, and sent messages thanking them for the experience. The responses I got back were written in Japanese. What an awesome example of gaming transcending language and cultural barriers.
So why are you still reading this? Go download and play the game already!