Where Journey Fails.

Posted by Xpgamer7 (2379 posts) -

I wrote a review on Journey, but with all the talk about cool stuff in it I'm going to talk about it's problems. Something it's much easier to do in a blog than a review.

Journey in itself is just a beautiful if basic game. The multiplayer shifts the focus to the other person and them to you. Without it Journey would be a much worse off game. But there's problems with it. With all the freedom you give it you also give it power. You lose that single experience. But thatgamecompany realized that and took out everything but basic interaction. This allows them to play and you to play with them. But just that allows certain people to mess around at least to some degree. They can't do much to you and the design lowers it to small jokes and play rather than ridicule and trolling. But regardless it creates the ability to take you away(if only slightly) from the world

But I haven't got into the meat of it. Journey is short. The design doesn't make it short, it just is. The way it weaves from one environment to the next should allow the designers to add a huge amount but they add only a few levels. Sure each is memorable but it greatly diminishes the scope and the size of the levels themselves only allows a small space to feel each element. It's like listening to a 3 minute song. It's hard to get all the impact from such a small space. Each of these is extremely detailed in it's design but because they're so focused they become short. The only thing that keeps the pacing working is the constant flow of music which tunes you to the world. And that music helps to set the tone and feeling. Without it the flaws would be more noticeable, although your companion helps to

In that there's almost a strangeness in the diversity. The first levels give you a sense of being lost, with a large scope and your path being only shown by a few stark objects, in contrast the later levels are extremely narrow with obvious points to go to. Other games often do this, but for a game so detailed it's strange that it loses this. There's also little variation in the path. Sure a few splits but they're small. The craziest one is predictable and later on. There's a path on the side you can see before hand and by the time you get to it you can figure out why it exists. But in these areas some are also weird in overall design. Most are straightforward sure, but in the beginning you get to an unnatural box. It's filled with stuff but it feels unnatural in overall design and though you can get high enough to pass over the sides the game won't let you(obviously). It's a stilted experience that doesn't work.

On that there's a few other things that aren't that great. The areas where you can find side murals for no conceivable in-game purpose seems useless to me. (and I went to all I could find but no achievement either) A lot of them are more than vague they're just redos of what you've seen before. And things like achievements at the end kind of break the experience. The game also becomes more and less like a game at points from having to not be in an area, (I hid AND ran but it didn't work) to having to get to a bunch of points. There's not much you can do to get through a lot of situations so answers become clear quickly but it can be troublesome to figure it out sometimes.

There's not much to criticize about the art design or glitches. My experiences were relatively solid and I expect a lot went into the perfection of these areas.

That said this is just the criticism.

Wait this is where I flaunt stuff that I want you to see isn't it? tinyurl.com/Journeyreview

So, comment if you have any to add.

#1 Posted by Xpgamer7 (2379 posts) -

I wrote a review on Journey, but with all the talk about cool stuff in it I'm going to talk about it's problems. Something it's much easier to do in a blog than a review.

Journey in itself is just a beautiful if basic game. The multiplayer shifts the focus to the other person and them to you. Without it Journey would be a much worse off game. But there's problems with it. With all the freedom you give it you also give it power. You lose that single experience. But thatgamecompany realized that and took out everything but basic interaction. This allows them to play and you to play with them. But just that allows certain people to mess around at least to some degree. They can't do much to you and the design lowers it to small jokes and play rather than ridicule and trolling. But regardless it creates the ability to take you away(if only slightly) from the world

But I haven't got into the meat of it. Journey is short. The design doesn't make it short, it just is. The way it weaves from one environment to the next should allow the designers to add a huge amount but they add only a few levels. Sure each is memorable but it greatly diminishes the scope and the size of the levels themselves only allows a small space to feel each element. It's like listening to a 3 minute song. It's hard to get all the impact from such a small space. Each of these is extremely detailed in it's design but because they're so focused they become short. The only thing that keeps the pacing working is the constant flow of music which tunes you to the world. And that music helps to set the tone and feeling. Without it the flaws would be more noticeable, although your companion helps to

In that there's almost a strangeness in the diversity. The first levels give you a sense of being lost, with a large scope and your path being only shown by a few stark objects, in contrast the later levels are extremely narrow with obvious points to go to. Other games often do this, but for a game so detailed it's strange that it loses this. There's also little variation in the path. Sure a few splits but they're small. The craziest one is predictable and later on. There's a path on the side you can see before hand and by the time you get to it you can figure out why it exists. But in these areas some are also weird in overall design. Most are straightforward sure, but in the beginning you get to an unnatural box. It's filled with stuff but it feels unnatural in overall design and though you can get high enough to pass over the sides the game won't let you(obviously). It's a stilted experience that doesn't work.

On that there's a few other things that aren't that great. The areas where you can find side murals for no conceivable in-game purpose seems useless to me. (and I went to all I could find but no achievement either) A lot of them are more than vague they're just redos of what you've seen before. And things like achievements at the end kind of break the experience. The game also becomes more and less like a game at points from having to not be in an area, (I hid AND ran but it didn't work) to having to get to a bunch of points. There's not much you can do to get through a lot of situations so answers become clear quickly but it can be troublesome to figure it out sometimes.

There's not much to criticize about the art design or glitches. My experiences were relatively solid and I expect a lot went into the perfection of these areas.

That said this is just the criticism.

Wait this is where I flaunt stuff that I want you to see isn't it? tinyurl.com/Journeyreview

So, comment if you have any to add.

#2 Edited by Dtat (1623 posts) -

I think you may have missed the mark a little bit with some of your points. It seems to me that the game is meant to be an allegory for any given journey. As such, it is a condensed version of a struggle or an arduous task, not a long adventure in and of itself. One reason the co-op works so well is that the game is the right length such that you can finish it in one sitting. This means you are more likely to finish it with the person you started with. You develop a very unique and vague relationship with that person over the course of the journey, helping each other in ways which aren't always direct. It's almost like moral support: represented by the ability to recharge each other's jump, and later to keep them from freezing.

The reason the later levels become more narrow is (I think) to represent your resolve growing. As a journey progresses and the goal draws nearer, the sense of casual exploration becomes less of a focus in one's mind. you've been through so much at this point, and the obstacles become more immediately threatening that the sense of desperation to reach the end comes into sharp relief.

These are some general conclusions I've come to. I don't think all of your points are invalid though.

#3 Posted by Rabbykayn (223 posts) -

The things you see as a failure are the same things that make this game so great.

Of course just one opinion versus another.

#4 Posted by Xpgamer7 (2379 posts) -

Well I can see that, I also noted a lot of the points Dtat said in my review as it being metaphorical to Journies. Although I also think it's about being lost and finding your way slowly as indicated by the "path" early on. The exploration becomes one of the world not of the game. And the length I still think could be expanded in some sections, though the second level is still badly designed. I think the overall levels getting more arduous help cement the difficulty and feel of a Journey and the end level and ending works well. But the design is very contrasting and I point that out. On the co-op I see it both ways. I played it once with the first person I found and again with interchanging ones. I didn't mention the support as I don't see how it's that bad(excepting the overuse for it's functionality leading to repitition). Regardless this AGAIN is the criticism not the game as a whole. And if you have points feel free to expand on them, vagueness is not great. I love the game, but I'm just pointing out the flaws.

#5 Posted by RoBear (54 posts) -

@Xpgamer7: Just curious, what about the second level (chaper?) is poorly designed?

#6 Posted by Xpgamer7 (2379 posts) -

It's a block. It's open but has limits you can't see. It breaks the design of the earlier level while not being a good transition to later ones. Sure principles and opening, and possible problems with making it different, but it's still bad.

#7 Posted by RoBear (54 posts) -

I think the canyon has great design because it shows your not stuck in the open desert for the whole start of the game, you are actually making progress towards the mountain. It has low rock walls that look like you can jump, but if you try the wind blows you back. It's a smart creative way of not having to make invisible walls. There is even a mural in the canyon that shows you, yeah it's a windy canyon. Also, the amphitheater with the "blank" murals are actually used in later playthroughs. I can appreciate taking a critical look at the game, but I do agree with the previous posts that some of your points actually work in the games favor.

#8 Posted by Xpgamer7 (2379 posts) -

well again I'm focusing on critical but a lot of criticisms can be seen as high points. A lot can be re-thought to advantages or disadvantages how you look at it. I don't share agreement on a lot of the points I made but I do find them interesting and a good criticism. I do like the creative way, but the level looks like a big box. It is well designed in the box, but the style of itself doesn't lend well to the rest of it. Anyway yeah.

#9 Posted by ProfessorEss (7319 posts) -

I like your comparison to the three minute song. It's a bizarre mix of compliment and criticism when you like something so much that you just wish there was more of it. Sure you can play it again, but just like a short song, playing something twice never seems to create the same crescendo as it may have had it been longer in and of itself.

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