Journey is a game that pulls you into its world with no instruction and without words. You don’t quite know what you’re supposed to do besides move forward, and it isn’t long before the instinct of the player begins to assert itself. Essentially, there is a desert in front of you, and you need to head to the mountain.
As the player progresses through the experience, the world will begin to reveal the tale of a long and forgotten civilisation. It never really tells you anything directly, but as you explore the various landscapes, it will start to fall together on its own accord. These story segments are intriguing, but the real narrative will be built from your own personal experiences in the game world.
There are a few on-screen prompts that outline some of the basic controls, but otherwise, it is up to the player to be assertive and experiment. The gameplay mechanics that drive Journey are cleverly built, albeit a little confusing at first. When you take flight, it feels absolutely incredible, but you may find yourself getting a little frustrated with the complexities involved in staying airborne.
It might also be surprising to know that Journey is not always a single-player experience, as you will join worlds with anonymous players sporadically throughout the experience. It would be easy to mistake this as just a part of the game as it’s very subtle and there is no way to communicate with visitors the exception of your character’s musical calls. If you can find a way to work together, it will benefit you both greatly.
It goes without saying that the game looks incredible, but it’s the sound design within Journey that truly sets the experience apart from anything you may have played before. The musical score works in harmony with what the player sees to help guide their exploration and communicate with the world.
The experience admittedly suffers from being quite short in length, and the actual narrative scenes don’t quite come together so clearly at times, but it manages to capture a side of gaming that has never been fully realised. In my opinion, Journey is the closest a game has ever truly come to art and should not to be missed.