by Mariana Morales
previewed on PS3
Thatgamecompany has earned its reputation by creating unique and beautiful games such as Fl0w and Flower. Their next project is titled Journey and it looks like it will not disappoint. Journey will be the first of their games to have an online experience. Game designer Jenova Chen seeks to explore the emotion and feelings that only a few games have even tried to. The inspiration behind Journey comes from his idea that our world has gained so much power through technology, that we have lost the essence of the human experience. Chen says that we’re all so focused on our own need to gain power in our lives that we miss some of the more beautiful moments that surround us. This is reflected in the games we play and so he wants the player to be free from the distraction that comes from pursuing power. In nature, we’re all free and rely on each other. Chen says every person we encounter should add to our enjoyment of life through sharing our human experiences. Without the distraction that comes from power and technology, Chen believes that the online experience will feel different to everything else before it.
Chen became so inspired after having a conversation with an astronaut. The astronaut said that anyone who has been to the moon comes back with a new way of looking at life; a spirituality. Looking at the Earth from the distance you do while on the moon, you realize how small we really are. It is this feeling that Chen hopes to capture when you play Journey.
The Mountain Awaits
In Journey, you control a little character made entirely of fabric walking in a desert. No details as to why have been revealed yet, so many questions are left open. In the distance, there is a mountain that you must get to, but this journey will involve a little more than just putting one foot in front of the other. Journey wants you to feel small in this world where the desert stretches as far as the eye can see.
As you explore the desert you will come across no enemies, but there are many obstacles in your way that you must face - some easier than others. You will also encounter other players who may or may not join you on your journey. A number of the obstacles will be easier with another player around to help but it will be a task to communicate with them since there is no chat. You can interact with others through shouting and singing though. Chen says that it is a way to communicate with players without using actual words; adding that spiritualistic approach that Chen is after. Adding to this is that these players will be complete strangers, as their PSN name will not show. If having a companion does start to drag though, you can always just part ways if you don’t want to hike with them anymore.
Explore the Desert
Thatgamecompany are once again utilising the smooth effect that can be experienced with the PlayStation’s six-axis controller to move the camera in Journey. In accordance with their minimalist approach to game design, you’re expected to figure out the controls once again as there will be no menus or tutorials - the developers believe in the concept of ‘touch and try,’ or ‘trial and error.’ Whilst traveling across the desert in Journey, you’re going to spend a lot of time looking at sand, unsurprisingly. You might even feel the heat if you’re that into it! Those who play the game at the pace it is meant to be will notice the detail of the sand moving beneath their feet. The player can also surf across the sand in a very graceful manner that can be helped along with waves created by the winds of the desert. The breeze in the desert will also be visible in the characters clothes as it sways the material around. Apparently you can also collect pieces of fabric and use them to fly short distances. You’ll have to “harmonize” with the cloth to get past certain obstacles, for instance it can create a bridge that you’ll be able to run across. They are even letting you draw designs in the sand if you want to, although it is unclear how this will be implemented.
Journey is looking to be very promising and for all the fans of thatgamecompany’s previous games, you can’t miss this one. Even after you reach that mountain, every time you play the game something different will happen because the developers want it to be like a museum: first time you come, you don’t see everything.