When I first played Journey, it was far from being a new release. I played it a long time after it was re-released on PS4. I don’t remember the details on why I got it, if it was super cheap during a sale or if it was someone’s recommendation.
Back then, I had played some excellent indie games and is not that I didn’t think highly of both developers and indie games alike. Still, no indie game had amazed me as a triple-A title such as The Last of Us did. This PlayStation exclusive did something no other indie had till that moment. Journey changed my perspective about Indie games.
Videogames as a form of art
Journey, since its very start, has something calming and soothing about it. It indeed isn’t such a graphically complex game. But it does have one of the best art directions I’ve seen in a game. It was so aesthetically pleasing and relaxing. I felt more like I was part of some artistic exposition rather than just playing a videogame. It has always been clear to me that video games are an art form, but Journey cemented that thought to a higher understanding within me.
The combination of the beautiful scenery with top-notch audio compositions made Journey an eclectic experience. This title effectively manages to deliver emotions, without words, but through visual and auditive queues. The world in itself is full of symbolic elements that makes you realize the title in itself gives away what you’re currently experiencing. That beauty in such a profound artistic delivery added depth and appreciation to the way I view Indie games and gaming overall.
The perfected craft of storytelling
Few games manage to accomplish what Journey does in the storytelling department. If you haven’t played the game yet, worry not, I won’t be giving out any details that would ruin the experience. During my time with Journey, albeit a short one, I was confronted with an ending that left me wondering about so many deep and existential thoughts. The game has a very vague plot. That’s part of the charm of Journey. It technically is about getting from point A to point B.
During that trip, you realize that everything, even the encounters you have with wandering random players (which might happen if you’re online) are part of the story. This is a story about enjoying the ride, in which everything plays a role in crafting a unique experience for you. You take it in and digest the message and morale of the trip in your own appreciation. Overall, Journey has been one of the best storytelling I have had in gaming. Is a hard one to describe, because it’s more an experience than it is a complex plot.
Companionship through the journey
Indie games have an unusual warmth and charm to them. Some of them are designed to bring players together, and they succeed in levels some triple-A titles dream of achieving. Games like Overcooked, TowerFall or Kingdom Bash are couch co-op experiences that require you to bond with your friends to obtain a common goal. Journey takes this concept and twists it to make it a unique experience. In Journey, you don’t choose who you play with. You encounter random players through, forgive the redundancy, your journey through the game.
There’ no voice chat, there’s no text chat, there’s just no possible way to communicate with the other players. You merely have visual and audio queues to communicate. It is only at the end of the game that you can learn the ID of those who played part of your journey as the credits roll. This experience of cooperation without names or even clear objectives but to keep moving forward is an outstanding experience.
Some indie games are majestic. Sometimes they touch subjects few other games won’t dare to speak of. Games like Journey are game changers, and ever since I played it, I can’t help but recommend it to everyone, even if they are not gamers. Journey made me appreciate the industry I work for much more and give me other angles on how video games can tell compelling stories in ways no other media can. Titles in the likes of That Dragon Cancer, Celeste, Ori and The Blind Forest, and many others are masterpieces that linger in our minds and hearts, just in the same way The Legend of Zelda and others have done it before. Indies have found a place both in the industry and our hearts.
Talking about indies, here are some great ones coming from [email protected]!