I just finished playing Journey for the first time. I went into it expecting... well I have no idea what I was expecting. I've heard many things since it was released, and it's been something I have wanted to try for a while, so I decided to give it a shot.
When I first began playing I was alone, it seemed interesting. Looked beautiful, sounded nice, and the controls worked great for what they were. As I was nearing the end of the first section I thought that I saw the tail of another player, inexplicably excited I moved as quickly as possible to chase it. When I came out on the other side of the door, encountered another player, but we basically went our separate ways until the path to the next section opened. From that point forward, I have no idea why, me and this random person stuck with each other like glue, waiting if one took a break, signalling to one another if there was a symbol we missed, etc.
After finding our way through these increasingly dangerous areas we came upon a snowy mountain. The snow was sticking to our cloaks and we were getting progressively slower and our singing progressively quieter. As we continued to climb we were barely able to move at all, and then I saw my buddy fall to his knees, and finally flat onto his face. My heart sank. I don't know how, but Journey made me feel a sense of loss that I'm not sure I have ever felt in a game, all over some person that I know nothing about, and haven't spent more than an hour running through this with. Then I fell myself.
Much to my surprise and delight we rose once more in the afterlife. We both excitedly fly beside each other singing as much as the game allowed. Filled with said excitement I raced forward to a ledge overlooking the area that I had just traversed. So I stood there and waited. Waited for my buddy to come up beside me so we could finish this... but he never came. I ended up searching for a solid 15 minutes looking for this stranger only to come up with nothing. I figure now that he/ she had to drop for the night, but the fact that I had to push forward myself compounded the loss that I was feeling. But still, I had to, so I did, climbing up a final hill, by myself, and walking through a narrow valley into a white light until I could not see myself anymore... and then the credits rolled.
It's kind of funny and weird to think. This game managed to make me feel something so strong when I truthfully only spent about an hour and a half playing. But in that hour and a half I found one of the most interesting, beautiful and surprisingly hard hitting experiences I have ever had in a game. Journey managed to break my heart without ever having said a word.
Kudos, thatgamecompany, and thank you.