Journey, a soothing quest

Posted: February 4, 2013 by junglepanda in Uncategorized

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I’ve been curious as to what the gameplay of journey would actually feel like having only heard about it from my friends in the past. Journey is an aesthetically focused game that combines a seemingly endless environment with a beautiful set of music and lack of direction.

When this game opens up, my character is in the middle of a vast desert with little explanation of what to do or where to go I am in control. The game lives on this sense of lack of control, which leads me to categorize this as Ilinx. The only thing propelling me forward is the false hope that at some point the questions I have will be answered if I keep jumping through the right hoops.

After spending more time inside the sacred space of the game I realize that the game is more governed by rules and limitations than I realized initially. Eventually and without explanation I am paired up with another player online who cannot communicate with me in any way except for a noise their character can make. After working with this person to make it through the area you can continue on by yourself seamlessly in gameplay.

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This game was intriguing because the Visual and Aural aspects were the most important when it came to learning. The game uses scrolls that light up in order to signal that you are charging your powers, and it uses sound cues to as well to confirm actions. In addition to this, your journey is at one point mapped out for you in a cut scene sequence, reinforcing the importance of the visual in this game.

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The most surprising aspect of this game is how the visual, aural, motor, mental, and learning aspects all work together to affect how this game is played. Because of the soothing music and enticing visuals I am put in a calm and relaxing mood. This tricks me into playing the game in a thoughtful way when combined with the sluggish motor responses and use of repetition in completion of tasks.

One of the few faults I find with the game is that I spent the majority of my time walking long distances with a slow moving avatar into the wind. It is a beautiful game that is very enjoyable but there were moments where I felt like scenes were dragging on too long.

This game will leave you with more questions than answers if you pick it up and play it for an hour. But the simplicity yet refinement of the game is what makes it hard to put down. A curious game with an open environment and strict set of gameplay rules that combines to make an enjoyable play style.

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Comments
  1. suzannescott says:

    You offer a good description of the experience of playing Journey, but contradictions arise between your identification of the game’s category (ilinx) and your description of the slow, methodical exploration. Not having a clear sense of the game’s rules and goals, or the game’s “directionless” qualities, doesn’t necessarily line up with the definition of ilinx (creating vertigo or an instability of perception, etc.). This isn’t to say that you couldn’t have made an argument for the experience of playing Journey as being primarily determined by physiological sensations, but you needed to work through this point in your analysis in more detail.

    A general note for future journal entries: be sure you’re defining your terms and citing your sources (remember, this is on the open web, others reading this might not be familiar with, say, Roger Caillois’ categories of games).

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