By DoctorWelch 1 Comments
I am sitting down to write this only moments after finishing Journey for the second time, and although it may be too early after the experience to tell, I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite games I have ever played. I may go as far as saying that this game is the best game ever made. If not the best game, I can say it is the most unique experience I have ever had while playing a video game. Keep in mind though, I have yet to play That Game Company’s previous game Flower.
This game has inspired me to write the first of a series I’m going to call “Greatest Games”. Now, obviously this is not the end all be all list of best video games, and I am also not somehow saying that Journey, or any other game on the list, has to be one of your favorite games. This is basically like a personal Top 10 list, without the limit of 10 games and the expectation of having only a paragraph or two about the game. For the time being I am going to give you the rundown of my favorite games and why I believe they should be regarded as something everyone should play. Also, keep in mind that I will be briefly diving back into each game I write about and give you my perspective on whether or not you NEED to go back and play it if you haven’t, as well as why I think it is one of the greatest games.
Journey definitely fits my criteria even now after I have taken some time to play it again and reflect on my first experience. I still know it is early and people often jump the gun about things being “the best” too soon after they happen, but I can honestly say this is one of the best games I have played yet in this generation. You know that shiver down your spine that rarely happens when you hear a certain song being sung, witness something in nature, or watch a certain movie etc? Well I had that feeling multiple times while playing Journey. I know the whole “games are art” thing is an often controversial and debated topic, but this game exists as something more complete and artistic than all other games I have played. The game somehow takes every aspect of its existence and makes it something worth being experiencing. The visuals, the gameplay, the story, the music, the multiplayer, even the pacing of the game and its extremely short length, everything about the game is essential for the experience and ties directly into each and every other part of the game.
I would not say I had an "emotional experience", but I will say I felt things I never usually feel while playing a game. In the same way Dark Souls purposefully taps into deeper human characteristics (perseverance, patience, and self control) this game too tapped into something deeper than most games do. Games are fun in certain ways, but Journey does something that other games simply do not, and it is extremely hard to describe because I don’t think it has really been done before. I know this will sound stupid, but it is almost as if you don’t play the game, it plays you. The mechanics are so simple that it is almost like you are along for the ride, and yet you still participate in extremely meaningful ways. It is not as if the game keeps moving on without you if you do not want it to, but there is a rhythm to what is happening that you don't want to interrupt.
I am a firm believer that some games are simply better when played in the right settings. I feel that journey needs to be played on a good quality and sized TV, in a dark room, while sitting upright and close enough to the screen that it is basically the only thing you can concentrate on. You would be surprised, when the TV is the only thing within your vision or hearing range that you can concentrate on it makes a difference. Also, playing the thing straight through and online connected to partners is a MUST! Without those things you might as well not even be playing it. The co-op experience specifically is one of the magical things about the game that makes you feel a way towards the world and your partner that you would not get if it was a friend or random stranger you could talk to. In the same way that Dark Souls makes the multiplayer more challenging by limiting communication, Journey uses that technique to make you care about your partner in a way that would only happen if you were actually making a tough and perilous journey with someone in real life.
I did not really give the "story" or "world" a second thought in the grand scheme of things and it is definitely not the reason why I love this game, but I will say that the story just adds to the what this game brings. I did not find the story complicated or too complex to understand even though the method by which the story is told is extremely minimalistic.
My amazement and excitement is about that of design and purpose. The experience as a GAME is something I do not think has ever been captured before. If nothing else, I can say that this game combines all of the elements that make up a game in a richer more complete experience than I have ever had in a game before. Anyone who knows me knows I am a critique of almost everything, and to have an experience where I honestly have nothing bad to say about it is extremely rare and an amazing feat. If you have not played this game yet, you are really missing out.
Also, check out my user reviews of MLB 2k12, and Trials Evolution that I recently uploaded to the site. I would just post them here but I'm not exactly sure what the rules on that are, so I'm just going to give you these links, and check them out if you want.