And we are far from alone.
June 10, 2012 4:26 PM   Subscribe

"There is a mountain towering over us, the engulfing light at its peak drawing closer with each step. But this mountain need not be a spectre. It can instead be a warden — a lighthouse guiding us home, waiting patiently for our return. We soar up its slopes, our hearts glad. We are tiny, we are empty, we know nothing — and how very beautiful that ultimate truth is." Over the Precipice - an essay on Playstation 3 game Journey.
posted by Sebmojo (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed Journey, but its vaunted anonymous multiplayer didn't really work for me until someone told me it actually was multiplayer. I wanted to know why the game had an AI companion that was completing levels without me.
posted by lumensimus at 5:04 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think journey is also part of a trend in indy games of stripping away all narrative and simply creating a space to be explored, though it is extremely, although subtly, linear. It's partly a budget thing, but this new trend of minimalist game design is fascinating to me. I think the game hits a sweet spot when people question if it's a game at all, something I've seen asked about journey or proteus dayz or minecraft, but something that is rarely asked about on-rails shooters and RPGs with hours and hours of non interactive cut scenes.
posted by empath at 5:21 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:36 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I liked Journey, but if you're considering buying it be aware that it is very short: you'll be done with it in two hours maximum, which may be a problem for you considering it is priced a lot higher than other short games. I personally felt a little bitter about it.

If emotional involvement and memorable moments are what you look for in gaming, I'd say it's worth it. It's not an intellectual game: it has puzzles, but they are so easy as to be solvable without a moment's reflection or hesitation. It's a game about feelings, about moods. It is best played when tired as it has dreamlike qualities. It has dreamlike physics and communicates through symbols and archetypes.

The multiplayer may be something you like or hate. I ended up turning it off, basically because every player I encountered wanted to chirp and run around and do things fast fast fast! Whereas I wanted to quietly explore, go from side to side, circle back, mess around etc, rather than always going forward. It's not a fucking race, pal.
posted by Ritchie at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I only played through Journey once, but the genius part of the AI for me was that you would lose your partner if you went too slow. Some of the partners I had wanted to collect all of the scarf pieces, and I would get legitimately upset when I lost them. On the other hand, when I wanted to take my time and explore, my partners would just go do their thing and our games would unlink. I think I had something like six partners, but I only had any meaningful interaction with three or four.
posted by JimBennett at 6:21 PM on June 10, 2012

I applaud games that try to create a narrative completely through gameplay. I tried to play one of these newfangled Wii games (a Resident Evil I think) and got so frustrated by the fact that there were more cutscenes than scenes that let me play that I gave up.
posted by rikschell at 6:38 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am old. I immediately thought this post was about this Journey game
posted by Mchelly at 7:02 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can't get into games like this. Nothing beats a good story with well designed characters that you care about.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2012

Thing about Journey is that I really *do* care about my little guy.
posted by Mizu at 9:22 PM on June 10, 2012

If you're the kind of person who cried at the climax of Toy Story 3 or the beginning of Up, run out and play Journey right now. Don't read anything more about it.

If you shrugged off those scenes, Journey probably isn't worth your while.
posted by fleacircus at 11:45 PM on June 10, 2012

Nothing beats a good story with well designed characters that you care about.

Maybe, but what does that have to do with games?
posted by empath at 11:47 PM on June 10, 2012

Nothing beats a good story with well designed characters that you care about.

Journey's world is actually very tightly designed; even after playing it through several times I was still noticing little touches. If you appreciate storytelling, Journey is actually extremely good at it for a videogame. Unless by good story with well designed characters you mean something like Uncharted 2, which I kinda love, don't get me wrong—but I don't think any part of U2 ever made me feel so impressed I was stunned, or made my heart hurt because part of it was so deeply beautiful.

It's one of those games where if it clicks for you, it's hard not to gush about it. For some people that means writing kind of unreadable stuff like the linked article of this FPP.
posted by fleacircus at 12:05 AM on June 11, 2012

I really enjoyed the whole thing. Some of the best games of all time are short focused experiences (Out of this World / Another World comes to mind).

SPOILER: Vg frrzrq gb zr nf vs gur raqvat jnf lbhe bja qrngu, sbyybjrq ol na nfprag vagb n fbeg bs urnira jurer lbhe znva erfgenvag -- yvzvgrq syvtug -- unf orra erzbirq.
posted by mochimochi at 1:45 AM on June 11, 2012

I think you're right, though in that last part you CAN still run out of scarf juice. And then of course at one point it still goes away completely.

[spoiler] And I think you do die. One of things you see right at the beginning of the game are two popsicle stick grave markers with scarves tied to them. I think these have to at least indicate you and your companion are dead. In some sense. Wot I think about the whole deal: you are a white-robe soul reborn in a red-cloth body, and so you are kin both to the white robe people and the red cloth creatures. You're a hybrid, a synthesis. You are participating in both of their life cycles, a "civilized" one and a "natural" one. So in the last stage, a shared heaven, you have your scarf when you fly with the red cloth creatures. But when you advance to the highest tier, you lose the scarf and become more like your pure white-robe soul.
posted by fleacircus at 3:08 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

haha good one empath

seriously though it's time to stop milking the whole minimalist thing, it was time to stop about a year ago
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:17 AM on June 11, 2012

Journey is one major step ahead in game developers figuring out what the hell games are as an artform. It manages to tell a story strictly through gameplay on two levels simultaneously: key story moments occur via your actually playing the game, and seem like natural responses to your actions; and there's an emotional content to the story that's entirely driven by how you feel while playing the game.

Visually it's stunning; one moment made me gasp, and a few others came close. The game does incredible things with shifting gradient colors; it's the first game I've played in years that felt like it was using a console's processor to do something ooh-and-aah-worthy.

The downside is the same as with every game by thatgamecompany: the gameplay works, but isn't especially compelling or fun. It's enough to motivate a two-hour playthrough, but I'm still waiting for that game which'll bridge the divide between games with artistry and games with good gameplay. Judging by how long it took other mediums to develop, that's still some years away, but Journey gave me a taste of what's to come, and it's excited me immensely for the meal proper.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:18 AM on June 11, 2012

I loved Journey.

I'm not a fan of the Videogames as Art conversation, but playing Journey was the only gaming experience I've had that moved me to tears. And it was an experience that was made all the richer because the multiplayer side of the game stood in such stark contrast to standard multiplayer gaming with all the n00b insults and teabagging that entails. It was an Art experience that made use of the genre conventions to make me feel something.

I've only played through once and what happened was that the first time I came across another player I became the person that Ritchie rightly moaned about above. I wanted to be the first to trigger the various events. I rushed and raced and tried to "beat" my partner. I lost contact with several other players during this period.

But after a while I decided to mellow out and start to look out for my companion. To keep pace and share the experience. It was fun.

[spoiler alert] And by the time we started to get towards the end I wanted to help them through the blizzard and up the mountain. When we both slowed and eventually fell face first into the snow I was genuinely upset. Which was followed by the sheer joy of the ascension (?) and the quiet steady stroll into the light.[/spoiler]

It really worked as a (perhaps slightly heavy-handed) metaphor for life, as the FPP link essay discusses. It was made all the more poignant by my wife going into the early stages of labour as I played, such that less than 24 hours later my son was born.
posted by grahamspankee at 4:26 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

i mean what's with all these people trying to make stories, who do they think they are and why haven't we set up a parody twitter account to take them down a notch
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:38 AM on June 11, 2012

But those minimalist games generate stories constantly. They just aren't authored, scripted stories.
posted by empath at 7:10 AM on June 11, 2012

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