Thatgamecompany and Sony have done something special with Journey. From start to finish, it's a mysterious game that's capable of delivering such an impact on its players that we can safely say we've never experienced anything like it.
You take control of a character in a desert and are given subtle clues about your objective. You'll walk, climb, slide and fly from the base of a dune to the peak of a mountain during Journey. As you do it, you'll encounter a beautiful adventure filled with joy, regret, sorrow, fear and triumph.
Journey does all of those things while loosely guiding candidates on what can only be described as an enlightening pilgrimage. By the time our tale drew to its close, we found ourselves pushing our hero forward with a sense of deliberate urgency.
And that's where we draw the line in describing this game. It's weird, but Journey is one of those games that demands players to see it for themselves. We have no problem heaping love upon it in piles, but we know it won't be for everyone. This game is an expression, and it's a testament to what the gaming medium can become. Thatgamecompany deserves a lot of credit for that fact, and Sony gets our love for supporting the project from idea to product.
Knowing that it won't be for everyone, we still find ourselves enamored with Journey. Without getting into a full on debate with ourselves, we'll say that this game is one of the best demonstrations of the medium's potential as an art form. Whether you'll say games are art or you won't, Journey makes the argument possible. We love it for that.
Journey does have a multiplayer component; but, because of its nature, we never actually saw it in action. You meet other players randomly. You can't communicate with them, and you'll never actually see their player names. You'll just find them in your travels and be able to move through the game world together.
It never happened for us. We never saw another, we assume, game reviewer during our play. It's the thing we regret most about our time with the game, and it's what will have us booting it up again once the masses have their time with it.
Finally, Journey is short. Our playthrough checked in at right around three hours time. We're not complaining about this fact, but we would like to point towards the three hour mark and the $15 price of entry. The two points collide in the face of a thrifty consumer, and they'll likely lead some to reconsider purchasing the experience.
However, we'll say this: if there's ever been a product worth a high price point despite a low playing time, it's this one. Despite the short narrative, Journey, its experience and its lasting impression make $15 completely okay.
If you're a PlayStation 3 owner, get this game. You'll be supporting what video games can be, thanks to the work of thatgamecompany and Sony, and you'll be buying into an incredible ride.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline was sent a review code for Journey just over a week before its full release. We played through the game twice, but never had the chance to encounter other players.