I wrote this a couple of weeks after Journey released, but didn’t post this anywhere until now Nov 2012. These are my opinions and thoughts on Journey. Warning: SPOILERS!
Image (header): "I was born for this" by Immp
Image (above): unknown
To me Journey is an experience that cannot be put into words but I will try anyway!
I love this game.
The human element makes it what it is. Every person you meet is different. Every action and reaction. The bonds and experiences, or lack there of. All with someone you don’t even know the name of. Every journey is different because of the human element.
Discovering how to fly forever together for the first time. I cannot explain how this felt, we celebrated in the sky.
Trying to teach someone to fly forever the first time was a massive struggle, trying to communicate how with such a limited and mis-interpretable language. I decided I was determined to teach this companion. The moment they understood, and we could fly though the dessert celebrating was intense. Most rewarding experience in gaming I have ever had.
Realizing the other was trying to draw something in the snow… a heart. Amazing. Then co-op heart chain drawing our way to the light, hilarious.
Celebration dancing, singing and meditation in the final climb. Game chills.
Being wrapped in a companions scarf. Heartwarming.
The language. Learning to speak to each other. Beginning with associating sound patterns with certain actions. Advancing from there. Very very simple of course (yes, no, come here, look look look look, thanks…), context based and body language dependant, but a shared language none the less. It’s amazing when someone begins to understand and starts chirping intelligently back.
The game design is clever, amazing, level and world design inspiring, sound design subliminally and consciously beautiful, visual style breathtaking, story open and deep, an experience of emotional peaks and pitfalls. A masterpiece.
Image (above): Journey by farooky
My current perception of the story of the world of Journey:
- In the beginning there was peace, energy and balance.
- Life came to the land.
- They learned how to harvest the “cloth” energy.
- They built a civilization on this energy.
- “Harvesting” more and more.
- A war started over this power struggle of energy between two factions of the white ones.
- They created powerful weapons of destruction
- They battled, and destroyed everything.
- Many passed.
- The great civilization was lost.
- The hero’s journey begins.
- New hope in a land of regret.
Image (above): Journey by ModestManiac
A cycle of energy. “Everything is made from the same energy.” The cloth energy. The white ones are a visualization of the true form, at peace in the light of the mountain. The white ones are the red avatars evolution. The red avatars are formed from the cloth energy, by collecting glyphs - other avatars, other energy you merge and journey together. The cloth creatures are the red characters afterlife. The red characters are the light glyphs (at the “end” you shoot out and return to beginning in the form of a gylph). The light glyphs are the white light. The white light is made of the white mist. The white mist at the end is your voice - your symbol when you “sing”, the energy. The white mist is the snow. The snow is the sand. The buildings are made from compacted sand and stone. Everything is made of the same energy. The buildings are tombs for the dead (repurposed or built for?). When people die, they turn into the living cloth creatures. The more influence, the more spiritual power they had when they died the bigger the cloth creature they will be. (Example: See the whale’s tomb in the tower; the picto-glyph depicts a funeral of a person of importance. The glyph states the tombs purpose. The tomb is the funeral ceremony room depicted. The whale’s origin is this tomb. The whale is the king’s new form.). The war leviathans are transformed armored cloth whales, or powered by cloth energy. The houses / the “cover” / cages throughout the game are fallen leviathan remains. By singing you rescue the magic carpets and cloth cards from being trapped within.
Image (above): Journey - the drop by SpoonfishLee
Cloth. Creature. Walker. Rock. Sand. Building. Dust. Snow. Voice. Energy. Glowing symbols. White one.
Red to white.
Six levels. Six totems at the end of levels. Six white ones.
Short game length - “Life is short”. You lose your cloak at the end - “In the end material wealth means nothing”. No glorified extravagant ending cut scene - “It’s the journey, not the destination.”
Thatgamecompany’s evolution through the games - flow (micro organism, water), flower (organic life, nature, grass, wind, earth, city), journey (bipedal being, sand, life, companion, transcendence).
It could be said that Journey contains symbolism from probably all spiritual belief systems. Tombs, remembrance, influence in the afterlife, heaven, angels, judgement, ascension, reincarnation, cycle, karma, oneness.
Many metaphors, references and experiences can be perceived. An entire lifetime, outward views of the human race, perils of technology, animal testing, war commentary, a hero’s journey, a lost loved one, rebirth, reincarnation, afterlife, heaven, redemption, limbo, warnings, religion, enlightenment, companionship, love, fertilisation, universal appeal - “Peace, children, innocence, nature, love, the sense of flight”.
Image (above): wanderer Sarta by Neko-Art
I have completed eleven journeys, silently watched over ten, and will return to it again in time.
Thank you thatgamecompany for an amazing experience.
Thank you everyone I’ve journeyed with so far: Wadatokxxx, wakanabisenxxx, northfacexxx, protosxxx, bkchickenxxx, silverfang2xxx, megalomupxxx, warbuck8xxx, drakxx, cwk4xx, sparrxx, seedholxxx, succuxxx, feraldixxx, bluesnoxxx, wiredcolxxx, arashikkoOxxx, signabc-1xxx, neogoldxxx, tovxx, fukeoyxxx, sasakuxxxx.
Image (below): Journey by Izzarra