One more go... Journey

There's a revised and updated edition to the 1001 Video Game book, but seeing as I don't have it I don't know if it includes the painstakingly obvious PS3 title that deserves a place in the 2010s section, Journey.

I'm writing this in 2015 where the closest thing to Journey is the yet to be released No Man's Sky. By 'closest thing', I mean the kind of thing that looks fantastic and you still don't know what the heck it really is, nor will you until you play it. Luckily Journey is already out, and now re-released for the PS4, and it is a must play - if you haven't already.

You see, Journey is, as its name implies, a tale that takes you somewhere. More than that though, it is a personal journey of discovery and wonder and all that jazz. But you can only really go on that journey once...

That video was the ending to Journey, more or less. It doesn't spoil anything, I think, because it is largely devoid of the context you need, which is what all the writing that follows aims to do.

You start Journey with little instruction and a guiding hand. Focal points are dotted throughout your desert sandbox that pull you in for a closer inspection. A sense of "What's that?" keeps you moving, if not from place to place, then to the focal point that looms on the horizon - a massive mountain.

You can't get lost and you can't really get stuck too much. 'Failure' isn't even an option either you just go on a journey to discover why things are the way the are, why everything is in ruins. What happened?

It's up to you to explore. The further you get into your journey, the more you learn from short cutscenes. A civilization was indeed here, and they have indeed died out. Additional, optional backstory is hidden away, waiting for you to discover it. But collecting things isn't the real journey. Sharing a journey however...

Journey features seamless transition from single player to multiplayer, and by that I mean sometimes, another player may wander into your game. Will they help you out? Will they run around like a blithering idiot? Will they chirp at you without getting the hint that chirping is a bit annoying if it's all you do? Who knows. Doesn't that sound fun? It was, but not anymore.

Back when Journey was new, all players were largely novices, exploring everything, playing together, sharing an experience. You could tell how new someone was by how long their scarf was - the longer the scarf, the more glyphs they'd collected, essentially the better they were at exploring. It was, in my experience, a good idea to stick with those players and, if you were the experienced player, help out the new players.

Each time you finished the game, new patterns were added to your cloak. Again, the more visually complex a character was, if you will, the more you should follow them to learn where everything is.

You'd go on a journey, either alone or together, and you'd go on it again to learn more, and a third time to collect everything. If you did, and chose to become a white robed figure, people would be foolish to ignore you, you've obviously got the hang of Journey.

By which point, the journey was perhaps meaningless to you. You'd done it, you'd been on it, you know where it went and what it meant. All you were doing was meeting anonymous players and chirping at them.

And then it was re-released on the PS4, and while there are new players, of course, there are players like me who knew where a good portion of the collectables are, and on the first run through had characters that looked like somewhat seasoned professionals.

Which is a problem, at least for me. I can't play Journey for the first time anymore. I can't even play it for the second or third time. It's lost a good chunk of its wonder for me. The end credit stats mention that I'd met 8 different users on my journey. Six of them were forgettable, either doing their own thing or me doing mine. One of them was blind to my efforts of aid, and the last was very similar to me, knowing where to go and that sticking together is important (get near another player and you can refill your energy, so to speak).

So I had a journey with that last user, we shared a story. I got eaten by giant stone beasts and they didn't, we climbed the mountain together, we finished as companions. And then the credits rolled, I quit and checked the news. No idea what they decided to do post-game.

Journey for me, especially on PS4, was business like. I'm here to do a job, and see it gets done well. But Journey on PS3, when playing for the first time, was an experience, and such a good one that everyone should get a chance to do so.

If you've not played, it doesn't matter which console you go for, though I'd imagine there's more player presence on the PS4. Not that bumping into companions is required for your journey, it's just nice. Sometimes.

Just go on a journey already.