It’s not easy to apply to Journey the traditional criteria of a game review. No one can deny is it beautiful. But this beautifulness doesn’t come from technological prowess : backgrounds and characters are bare. Besides the astonishing rendering of sand and snow, Journey won’t break any record in techs. This more from a philosophical point of view that you can see the game’s true beauty, whitout ever having to wonder whether it’s native 1080p or not.
What can we say about gameplay? Again, Journey is pretty limited in that field. No tutorial nor options, Journey spares you unless chit-chat and throws you right in the middle of the desert whithout telling you anything. It’s cool to learn how to play by oneself and this makes Journey even more immersive. You’ll be fine though : your traveler can only jump (and not always) and communicate by a strange glyph, but it’s easy to find your way. Too easy maybe, since there’s little innovation or difficulty in gameplay. Even the coop features doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. It’s somewhat a short game, but trophies do add a replay value.
Music and sound remain discreet but great, as they support the narrative. The storytelling seemed rather vague : there isn’t a single word, and or real story to begin with. Journey actually looks like this old Disney movie, Fantasia. That said, Journey is moving from back to front. I can’t tell you why, it cannot be demonstrated. I can’t say it’s the game of the year, because I don’t see it as a game to begin with. We have to think out of the box : not really a movie, not totally a game, much more than a painting, Journey is sailing within the Bermuda Triangle of those three.
I have a personal attachment to Journey. Solitary tale supported by an amazing art direction. Your traveler advances tirelessly against the elements towards a mountain emitting some holy light. Why? No one knows. Even I, after having seen the end credits, can’t tell you. However, I do want to continue the journey. That mountain stands like the never ending quest towards the truth that I can never grasp in my own life of solitude. Journey might actually the story you tell to yourself. Those you have already written it may think Journey empty.