A Journey Worth Investing In?

As a unknown protagonist wearing a hooded red robe in the middle of a empty desert, I was left with no explanation of why I was here, and what to do next. With a endless expanse of sand in every direction, it was only the slightly higher dune with a small formation on top that stood out. I inevitably headed in that direction to the promise of what lay beyond.

This is how it goes from thatgamecompany’s latest $15 downloadable game. It’s an experience built on curiosity. With amazing visuals and sounds, it draws you in. Their is no right, wrong or fail state. Just pushing forward to see what lies beyond. What also seems unclear is this seemingly life of solitude, is a multiplayer experience. Their is no pregame lobby, avatar names that pop up in-game or voice chat, but you may come across someone as you travel forward. At first this character seemed confused, erratic and shy. It slowly seems to follow my lead and learn from my actions as I sailed the sky and skied down sand dunes. Then we danced together to new heights and soared through expansive environments for untold miles only to separate in different directions. Later it led me and showed me the way, when I was uncertain. (Did the fact it had a longer scarf then me, equate greater wisdom in this land?)

As the current generation of games comes to a close, it has me questioning quality vs. value. Their has been this unwritten law that a game should be a certain length to justify it’s asking price. This environment allows for games, like the Fallouts, the Zeldas and Mass Effects, to demand large amounts of time investment and unnecessary padding for it’s players. This game is the opposite. Before I knew it, it was over. But as the credits rolled, I had not earned one trophy achievement. What had I missed? It is yet to be seen, if this is a disposable experience like the developer’s last equally stunning title, Flower.

thatgamecompany’s mantra is to design and develop artistically crafted, broadly accessible video games that push boundaries of interactive entertainment. If you are a hard core gamer with a limited budget, you will likely feel burned. If you are someone who wants to take advantage of your HD and surround sound setup , this could be more meaningful then a movie purchase. This will appeal to dormant and non-gamers. It had me wanting me to thrust my controller in their hands, because it’s actually hard to classify this as a game. It requires no time investment , little skill or any frustration that is common in gaming.

It was a blockbuster day of entertainment for me. I discovered spotify on my smart phone, fell off my chair watching HBO’s Life’s too Short and received my most anticipated game, Mass Effect 3.  None of that grabbed my attention more then Journey. I guess that tells me something.

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