A couple of days ago, I lucked out snagging a beta code to Journey after winning a contest through 1UP. I was very excited to get my hands on this title, as Journey is one of my most anticipated games for the year – other than Uncharted 3, of course – and has no set release date as of yet.
Journey is a PS3 exclusive title created by ThatGameCompany, the developers of the games Flower and Flow. Santa Monica Studios – the creator of the God of War series – also co-developed Journey. However, Santa Monica’s role was not a huge surprise as they have worked on other similar projects, such as the PS3 interactive art piece, Linger in the Shadows. Journey has a very mystical look and feel to it. As I wandered across a vast desert that the sand rippled and sparkled like a golden ocean. The sand dunes were like giant waves that I could slide down – but climbing them took effort and would slow me down.
Journey’s controls are seamless and works well with the gameplay. At game start, the Journey prompts you to move the PlayStation Six Axis controller around to view the environment. The Six Axis camera controls concerned me, however, I soon discovered that there are also analog camera controls as well. Jumping and gliding is also a unique, and limited, experience in this game. The amount or length of times you are allowed to jump or glide is dependent on how long your scarf is. You must refill your “gauge” by finding red, flying scarves in the environment or interacting with other players or objects.
You can also interact with scarves, or other travelers, by using the circle button. By using this “call,” you can make new scarves to refill your gauge, and interact with objects that are within range.
While playing the Journey beta, I ran across two other players during co-op mode. The first traveler I found did not attempt to interact with me, as the player stood still. He glowed after I used my “call” on him, however, he still did not move. I saw a second traveler in running in the distance, but they were too far away for me to pursue.
Character interaction is limited in Journey, however, I am very excited to see how co-op effects gameplay when the game is fully released.
Just like in Flower, the music in Journey plays a meaningful and important role in the game. Interactions with objects and new discoveries shape the musical landscape, and as always, the soundtrack was gorgeous.
Playing Journey was also an emotional experience, as there were moments that I felt happy or at peace, which was an exciting and rare moment that I have experienced while playing a video game.
The half-hour segment I played of the closed beta ended way too quickly, as I wanted to keep going on my journey. However, I will continue to check back and see if the beta changes any in the upcoming weeks.