With relatively little on show of thatgamecompany’s (developers of Flow and Flower) latest PSN title my excitement for Journey may be misplaced. But with an idea that appeals to me so much, coupled with the stunning aesthetic and thatgamecompanys pedigree, I can’t help but feel it’s a safe bet.
Set within a desolate desert world, Journey casts the player in as a lonely protagonist trying to find their way to a distant mountain. It looks stunning, with beautiful empty vistas spreading for miles, perfectly in keeping with thatgamecompany’s previous artistically aware titles.
What does separate Journey from thatgamecompany’s previous work is that it looks like a game. While the goal of Journey still seems firmly routed in the experience and exploration, the player character is… well a character, as opposed to an evolving amoeba or a petal. This more grounded protagonist brings with it more relatable abilities and ways to interact with the word, such as jumping and singing.
To reach the distant mountain it seems the player will have to make use of all the skills available to them as well as the fabric found in the world. Fabric in fact forms an essential part of the games mechanics, granting powers by collecting it, as well as taking on various qualities (such as acting as a platform) when ‘harmonised’ using song.
Most intriguing of Journey’s features lie in its multiplayer. Comparable to Demon’s Souls in its implementation, the multiplayer is an almost passive experience. With no direct communication between characters it is left to the players actions to display intent.
What is even more interesting about Journey’s multiplayer is that it will only be with one other, randomly selected, person at a time. Once a partner is seen in the world, a player can choose to approach them and interact or walk on, whereby eventually another new partner will eventually be drawn in to the world to replace the old spurned one. It is an interesting dynamic that appeals to my antisocial online gaming style.
Due sometime (hopefully) in 2011, I am going to remain excited about Journey until thatgamecompany does something to prove me wrong.