Video Games

Journey: 1 Year Later

Journey-Screen-One

Celebrating this generation’s most important work of art.

Released to the masses on March 13, 2012, thatgamecompany‘s Journey re-ignited the “games as art” argument. It’s beautiful and ethereal depiction of companionship, mystery, communication, evolution, and post-apocolypse paved the way to its chart topping success, numerous awards, and a Grammy nomination; a first for the video game medium.

One year later, Journey continues to top Playstation’s charts, peaking during awards shows and best of lists. Amongst heavy-hitters and AAA titles, Journey’s legacy continues.

There is also the outstanding success and importance of Journey’s soundtrack. Composed by Austin Wintory, the soundtrack sprawls from eerie tension to a warm enlightenment, as demonstrated by tracks “Nadir” to “Apotheosis.” Wintory’s score went on to win numerous awards, dominating the Best Music/Audio category of nearly every video game award ceremony and became the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy. One may argue that the standalone success, sweeping hooks, and inspiring melodies of the score continue to draw players to Journey and open conversations to new audiences.

With all of it’s gravitas and praise, Journey is not without its nay-sayers. Many refute the piece as a “best of” contender due to its lack of traditional gameplay. Even I, an avid fan of the experience, struggle with the “games as art” argument and have the idea that we need to reevaluate our definition of “game.” There is no doubt in my mind that Journey is a profound piece of art, but does it qualify as a game?

“Journey’s primary mechanic was to move the player from point A to point B and tell a story and show off scenery. The puzzles are simple. The threats are sparse. Consequences are inconsequential.” - Kyle Starr, IGN.com

Regardless of one’s feelings on whether Journey can be classified as a game, the experience is one that challenges our opinions of the world and each other. Clocking in at roughly 2 hours of intimate gameplay, Journey is best left as a solo experience to be completed in a single sitting, similar to a movie. The themes previously mentioned are deep and subtle, something we’ve come to expect from novels. And the score not only moves the story but, like the world’s most important classical pieces, can be enjoyed apart from the visual experience.

One year (and one month) ago, Journey redefined art and interactive entertainment. It challenged storytelling, world building, and character evolution. It goes without saying that Journey is one of few crowning achievements of our modern society that should be experienced by all, gamer or otherwise.

Buy: Amazon

Soundtrack: Amazon | iTunes

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Journey’s PSN rank since launch. The following sales data as reported by the official Playstation Blog:

Top 20 PSN/Retail Games:

2013

2012

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Kyle Starr is the writer of TheStarrList.com and The State of Gaming. Find Kyle on Twitter at @_kylestarr.

4 thoughts on “Journey: 1 Year Later

  1. Ok look this is a game and it really is art, we call movies art don’t we. It’s not traditional gameplay, you are correct in that but that’s what makes it better. Most games make everything a goal to obtain which at times is great but then there are those times that you want to throw down your controller and stop playing video games. I mean its nice to be challenged, it makes you solve problems that are in your way or use teamwork to get threw an obstacle. This game though allows you to just take in everything and travel through this world created without big problems in your way. Yes the obstacles aren’t very challenging but that’s not a big problem, the gameplay is just…fun. Look at other games that are standard, call of duty, battlefield, etc. the only reason that people go back to play them is for the online multiplayer, which is fun but all you are doing is running around and scoring. In journey you go back over and over again because it is great and fun, which is more than I can say for other games. Journey is a break from the standard games that are out now, a chance for you to just play.

  2. Why must there be a threat, or a consequence? I am tired of video games, movies, every day life where violence/threats are woven into the fabric of everything. Journey is a refreshing diversion and speaks to deeper spiritual truths that some of us resonate with and embrace as being important and inspirational, which are the true rewards of the soul, not “winning,” “conquering,” “exploiting,” “dominating.” Kudos and many thanks to the creators of Journey! Please develop a version for younger children, if you haven’t already. I’d like to see more children exposed to these beautiful kinds of concepts, and to help them realize that they can play for the simple enjoyment of it, not because they have to overpower or “win” at the expense of someone else…. I think this game could inspire imagination in kids and an appreciation for beauty and art.

    • Great feedback! Speaking to your point about conquering, the essence of a game is competition. This is why I pose the question of whether Journey is actually a game or not. Thanks for commenting!

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