Hands on with Journey: More Beautiful in Person

Written by Barry Villatoro

Journey is one of those unique games I get excited about. Doing something different from the rest of the pack. Showing that games can be more than FPS and RPG’s. Going even further passed that, that a game can be art and do so much with so little. From the controls to the main task of the game, everything is kept simple, enjoyable. thatgamecompany is set to create an experience you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

At CES 2012 I was able to get sometime in with Journey and even bounce some questions off of Kellee Santiago, Co-Founder and President of thatgamecompany. From the moment I walked into the Sony booth and laid eyes on Journey I was impressed. Pictures don’t do this game justice. You may even be surprised at the exceptional detail put into the sand and rightfully so, since you’ll be seeing so much of it. Journey looks to be cell shaded animation coupled with 3D rendering that will have you saying, “Yes, video games can be art.”

You’ll play as, from what I can tell, a cloth person. Your task? Head to the giant mountain with the shiny light on top of it. That’s basically is how it begins as well. As the game starts you navigate your clothy over a dune and there it is, the light. Get there. I asked Kellee Santiago if the game is open world or if there were “levels” to the game in which she confirmed there are “levels” to the game. So it’s not so open world as it appears, but with that being said, there’s still much to explore.

As you travel towards the light, you’ll come across ruins and occasionally other players. First the ruins. This more of the gameplay part of the game as the ruins can sometimes act as puzzles. They can range from figuring out how to unlock an ancient door to “creating” cloth  bridges. You’ll come across pieces of cloth throughout the game. Now you’re able to have your clothy create a pulse of light, the other pieces of cloth or players your pulse touches will be affected. When your pulse reaches pieces of cloth, they will either leave to “meet up” with other pieces of cloth to form bridges or more. They can also surround you giving you the ability to fly. When your pulse reaches another player it allows them to “fly” for a short amount of time. It’s less like flying and more of a space jump,  a large space jump. At this point Mrs. Santiago said she’d been trying with another player to achieve perpetual flight, which she said may be possible, although very difficult.

I also asked her about how long the game would take to complete, she replied, ” If you ran straight through, about 3-4 hours. But the point of the game is exploration and discovery.” I also learned that Journey is dialog free, the story is told strictly through voice-less cutscenes.

Now at one point in the demo I was joined by another player. It was explained to me that a player can join your game at anytime, if they’re near the same area as you in their own game. When that occurs both your worlds basically meld and become one. Now the player that joined me was nameless and this led me to question whether every played that joined your game would remain a stranger or if their PSN ID would show, in which she replied that they were still undecided on that aspect.

As I stood there and played Journey, I was just relaxing and exploring, no time limits, no enemies, nothing, just exploration. The other player and I continuously pulsed each other to fly around the dunes and check out the ruins which abound over every dune. We would also fly to the top of a large dune, then slide all the way down. Journey was joyfully relaxing and I look forward to the release of it, which is still TBD

About the author

Barry Villatoro

Twitter : @IamWeapon | Former citizen of Azeroth and Atreia | Favorite fighting game - DefJam: Fight for New York | Favorite RPG - FF6 | MMA | Sushi | ATV's |

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