Friday, 14 August 2015

Journey: PS4 Review

Journey: PS4 Review

Released on PlayStation 4
Studio: thatgamecompany
Available on PlayStation Network

Sometimes, a game comes along which just blows you away, offering up the perfect mix of visuals and gameplay.

So it was with Journey back in 2013 on the PS3.

When it launched, it proved itself to be unique, different, visually amazing and creatively clever and yet everyone's experience of playing it will be different.

So the remaster on the PS4 was an inevitable proposition and one that shines with improved power of the unit and the visuals that were already on show.

Let me backtrack for a moment though - and give you some details about what the game is about for those who never took it up way back when.

Essentially, I'm not 100% sure. Bear with me, I've not gone mad and decided not to reveal all - there's so much of this game which is open to your own interpretation.

You are a robed figure who starts off in a desert; a sort of Jawa-esque Arabian type figure who makes no sound other than various flute like noises or notes. When you start, a vast expanse of desert lies in front of you - you've nothing to do except walk around and follow some monuments in the distance.With only the sand around you, you could be forgiven for thinking what you see is a mirage, a joke from the gamers who've made this come to life. But the further you wander, the more you see over the horizon.

Aside from using the circle button to let out a sound or a prolonged burst of song, one thing aids our traveller - bits of cloth and tapestry floating in the air. By singing to them, they are attracted to the Journeyer and form a flowing sash on the back of the neck.That in turn, gives the Journeyer the chance to float and fly across landscapes and above ground. There's no speech or text in this game; it's simply about communicating in different ways and non traditional narrative which is addictive, inspiring and at times, profoundly moving.

All of this probably sounds a little insane - and to be honest, you can't really appreciate how wonderfuland spiritual Journey is without playing it yourself.

Graphically for such a sparse landscape and world, there's never been anything so stunningly impressive; each step creates ripples and dunes flow and ebb with winds as you negotiate them. The visuals are so eye catchingly bare that you're entranced; the simplicity is gorgeous and put very very simply, I have never been part of a game that has given such a sumptuous feast on the eyes by offering up so little. Occasionally though there are moments when the camera movement gets in the way of the character and it can cause a few issues as it auto-corrects (sometimes, not as successfully)

Musically, the mix of violins and cellos give it such a wondrous sonic backdrop which compliments and nuances the whole experience.

Online, the game flourishes too - with other players showing up on screen without any warning. There's no dialogue between characters and much like any kind of tale, you're never quite sure if they're there to help or hinder - the real kicker of this though is they're not automated; these are others experiencing the same path as yourself. It's such a clever intelligent touch by the designers that it's a real reason to take it into the multiplayerverse.

I'm loathe to give away too much about this game - and not just because I've been asked not to do so; the reality of Journey is that the adventure is so uniquely challenging, so cleverly individual and so much fun to find out for yourself, it's almost a shame to have anything spoiled by it.

I can't recommend Journey high enough - while short, it's a brilliantly original game which rewards you for as much you put into it; you define the game by your core philosophies and as such, each Journey will be as unique as every player.

There's still an unstated elegance to Journey on the PS4, and while some of the beats will be familiar to those playing it again, it's no reason to be put off by it - it remains simply one of the most soulful games of our generation - and still an essential purchase.


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