I recently played Journey on the PS3. Compared to other games, it’s a bit overpriced for about two hours of gameplay at best, but in more broad terms, $17-ish USD isn’t bad for what amounts to the same amount of entertainment as a typical film. I found the game to be a captivating experience that I expect to return to a couple of times, as the trophies will provide good motivation to spend some more time with the game. Though I’m usually more of a singleplayer fan, what really sold Journey for me was, surprisingly, its approach to multiplayer.
The multiplayer is in the Demon’s Souls vein of the game pulling random people into your game while you’re playing, but whereas in Demon’s Souls they come to kill you and steal your body, in Journey they just kind of tag along and you can recharge each other’s jump power by touching. Because there is no character customisation and the only form of communication is a sort of instrumental singing you can make your character do when you press a button, there is literally nothing other players can do to not fit into your game (if you’ll pardon the double negative).
In fact Journey provided one of the most affecting multiplayer moments I’ve ever had. I had reached a sort of simple stealth section where you need to go from shelter to shelter to avoid the gaze of flying monsters that will tear you apart and permanently reduce your jumping power if they spot you. Another player had been pulled into my game, and we were following each other through this section, which is pretty tricky when no verbal coordination is possible – it was all we could do to read each other’s movements and try to anticipate each other. It went extremely well – like myself, I could tell he’d made it through the last section with all his jumping power intact, so he clearly had this stealth thing under control. At the end of the section, just before the finish, we accidentally split up when we could go either left or right to the second to last shelter.
So we’re standing in different shelters, pretty far from each other, with a long stretch for both of us to the last piece of shelter before the finish… and he leaves his shelter too soon. Juuuust exactly too soon, I’m looking at him go and I can see the spotlight from this giant flying monster coming up behind him, and I can tell he’s not gonna make it. And I’m shouting at the screen. And it catches him out just a few meters in front of the shelter, so he makes it in. I hold my breath… did he make it? Is it going to go away? But it keeps its light fixed on where he’s hiding. Then it moves backwards, and then it swoops down and completely obliterates his shelter, sending him flying. I think the server just shunts him out of my game when he gets “eaten”, so all I see is him getting destroyed by this giant monster. Needless to say I took the time to let the next monster pass over my shelter before I made a run for the finish, and I got there in one piece.
Not a bad set of emotions to elicit for such a short and philosophical game.