In this current console cycle, it seems that fewer games are becoming console exclusives. Commercially, it makes more sense to have your game available on different systems. More players equals more money. However, Indie games are an area that still operates almost exclusively on single consoles. Indie developers simply don’t have the money to adapt their games to different operating systems. And this is a shame, because Indie games are often some of the most imaginative games on the market.
A current example of this is thatgamecompany’s most recent title, Journey. Journey is a PSN exclusive released in mid March & has since received a massive amount of critical acclaim. Since it’s release, it has become the fastest-selling game on the PSN… ever! Unfortunately for me, I don’t own a PS3. However, thanks to the wonders of Youtube, I just finished watching a playthrough of this fantastic game. And I can say that the hype is well deserved.
Journey is a beautiful game in every way. Visually, it’s stunning. The world you explore is somehow both bleak yet beautiful. You’ll travel through hot deserts, dark caverns & a frozen mountain. While the design is appealingly simple, I think it’s the use of color, light & shadow that really have a major impact. I loved that the creatures are all made of cloth. From the Wanderer to the strange flying carpets. It really makes the enemies seem all the more different, with their stone bodies. One of my favorite parts was near the end when the Wanderer is climbing the mountain. You can see frost grow on his clothes, which melts away when he gets near a power source, his robe & sash falling limp like clothing should. Another small detail that had a big impact for me was the way the sand & snow moved as the Wanderer walked through it.
But what really put this game over the top for me was the music. Journey has no text or spoken dialogue. Even when communicating with other Wanderers you can only make short, flutey noises. Because of this, the music has to convey the mood, & it does so perfectly. I’ve read that the developers are thinking of releasing the soundtrack on a disc, & if they do I will definitely be buying it. The music fits every mood in the game perfectly. Whether it’s a slow melody as the Wanderer floats around in the desert or the quick staccato as he’s running headlong through a blizzard while avoiding a flying baddie, it conveys to the player what they should be feeling. This is especially important during the cutscenes explaining the plot.
Journey is a short game about reflecting less on your destination & more on the path you traveled to get there. If you have a PS3, buy it. If you don’t, watch it on Youtube (I recommend without commentary). I wasn’t surprised when I learned that the developers were also behind another PSN exclusive, Flower — another game I would’ve loved to have been able to play. Hopefully, now that they’ve fulfilled their three-game contract with Sony & have gotten their name out there, thatgamecompany will start releasing titles for other consoles as well.