It seems strange that relative to the utter hysteria of the past week my first blog upon my return from PAX East should regard a game that was not even present at the show. However, I can only play the cards I am dealt. Arriving home after a gruelling 7 hour flight, collapsing, then waking up only to begin drinking the copious amounts of duty free Vodka that I has purchased (with unprecedented foresight), I found myself with the first empty stretch of time I have had for several weeks. Disoriented, I stumbled my way through several games of Dota 2, but that didn't itch my scratch, nor vice versa. I needed something fresh. Journey is... well... it's something else.
I'm going to begin with a bold and stark statement; Journey is the most beautiful game I have ever played. I don't mean that purely from an aesthetic sense, though would be an easy case to argue. Journey balances precariously between playful exploration and sinister existentialism. Though you may spend parts of your adventure in the company of another, this is a pilgrimage of singularity, of scale, and of reflection. This is about you.
It's hard to capture exactly what makes Journey so shatteringly insightful. The echoing chimes that haunt your footsteps across the desert, offset by the playful chirps of the ribbons that guide you, creates a wonderfully reverential tone, reinforcing the weight imposed by the sheer magnitude of the desert and the magisterial history of the ruins you negotiate. The length of your scarf, a source of pride, is stripped with such brutality that you cannot help but feel pity for those who are subjected. Companionship exists through shared hardships, nothing more. The tentative chirping of the players acts not as a form of communication, more as a despondent cry for reassurance. To receive no reply, to spin around suddenly concious of your isolation is... overwhelming.
Journey manages to subtly and eloquently communicate meaningful resilience and determination in a way that is hauntingly rewarding to it's players. I walked from start to finish in one sitting and, having completed my Journey, sat staring at the screen for a long time. Now it's over, I don't particularly want to play anything else.
Except fuckin' Pooyan, obviously.