As the debate between whether or not video games are a form of art rolls on,thatgamecompany’s “Journey” draws the argument closer to a resolution.
“Journey” takes the player on a straight-forward quest to the peak of a mountain in search for an answer as to why it’s world is in such a bleak state of affairs. The protagonist which you control is a fearless, mystifying, rogue who trudges through sand valleys, flutters gracefully through the air, and effortlessly slides down dunes.
The gameplay mixes the action-adventure elements of Sonic and Zelda into the over-world setting of Final Fantasy. The beauty of the game play comes from a very lightweight tutorial. The use of two buttons to control your characters actions while you move with the left analog stick and control the camera either with the right analog stick or the motion of the Sixaxis.
“Journey” provides a very seamless multiplayer aspect in which you may just run into other players questing along the way. Mid-way through my game, I met up with another traveler and we ended up completing the game together. There are no dialog boxes, just melodic chirps to communicate back-and-forth. Over time, you and your companions will develop a relationship that needs no more than simple tones called out at one another, either as a form of communication or powering each other up.
The visuals and physics are beyond breathtaking and would easily qualify as a modern day CG animated film. The way light radiates off of the sand during a sunset is enough for one to realize that this “game” is different.
The game treats you to a tantalizing score by composer Austin Wintory (@awintory) reminiscent to Adagio for Strings, Op. 11. Flurries of string arrangements fill the world with a delicate ambience that allow the game’s pacing to flow naturally from one chapter to the next. The score will tug at your heartstrings and have you clamoring back to “Journey” for more (or at least seek out the soundtrack for your own enjoyment).
Visuals and music aside, the story which you progress touches on themes that humans have always struggled with. With a story-arc that spans roughly two hours in length, friendship, solitude, perseverance, good, evil, light, dark, trust, progression, evolution, life, and death are all explored.
If art, in its simplest form, is something that evokes emotion, after playing “Journey,” I have a hard time saying that video games are not a true form of art. Sure, every game encompasses many forms of art (music, writing, visuals, design), no game I have played before is able to unify them into a single experience the way “Journey” does.
My father always says, “if I continue to think about a film after I’ve seen it, then I know it was a good film.” I cannot help but feel that I will think about “Journey” for the remainder of my life, not only as a great game, but as a piece of art that impacted and strengthened my ideals and philosophies about the world around me.
View the trailer here.