Journey Is Gorgeous - PAX Hands-On

By James Hawkins in Hands-on
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 6:00 pm
JOurney (250 x 193).jpg

​I have a thing for small, beautiful games. And thatgamecompany is one of the best when it comes to playing to my bias. So my hands-on with the upcoming Journey went on far too long, and my infatuation with it was extremely apparent when I spoke with its executive producer. She smiled. I told her I didn't usually let people know how I felt about games when I was at press events -- that whole journalistic integrity thing I try to keep up was being skirted blatantly. She gave me a free shirt when she ran in to me later in the indie games section of the show. It was magical.

But that was all rooted in how beautiful the game itself was. I'll take you on a journey of my journey through twenty-five minutes of Journey. It begins with me getting off the soft high of playing Shadow of the Colossus.

Games rarely intentionally make me feel lost. Often enough I'll become lost, but the intent of the world in a game is generally to take me from here to there, or to make me find there, to explore the offerings of the game's design. Journey doesn't have a distinct point to it, from my estimation. There's no princess to be saved or evil empire to topple or chamber to escape from. It is just a sweeping crawl through a desert of sensory delights and whimsical breezes with no destination but that space inside my head of not thinking and just feeling.

Small gameplay feautres enhanced the capacity at which I could explore this place -- leaping on streams of air and sliding down sloped dunes would help me navigate through the ruins that dot the landscape, a few subtle power-ups enhance my abilities, but for the most part I could just walk. And I was content to do so.

Journey is the kind of game where real-world time is incalculable when I'm immersed inside of it. They're rare -- oftentimes they don't captivate for long, either -- but what I've been shown of this one is cryptic enough and lovely enough to make me long to head back for more. And I don't feel that too often at all.

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