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It’s more than just pixels…

Journey has been getting me to really think about this subject lately; how cinema has pushed games, how it has been pushing games, and how it will be pushing games. What do I mean by push? I mean by “pushing” towards a more cinematic direction. View my evolution slideshow below to see what I mean…

P.S. Make sure to click the caption button in the bottom left so you can see what I have to say.

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Journey – A game that blurs the line between it and film.

I have always disliked the “video games are art” argument.  It has been a weak one with little backing.  To me, a game has always been a game; not art.  My definition of art is something with the ability to move you.  The only game I have played where I recall feeling that has been the Metal Gear Solid series; the fourth one in particular.  But even then, I still felt a bit empty in the end, knowing that the whole time I was playing just a game.  I did not have the inner urge to go back to just appreciate what I experienced.  If you asked me the moment before I played Journey, I would still have this opinion.  If you asked me the moment after, I would be taking that back.

The line blurring started even before this.

It’s difficult to tell where the cutscenes end and where the gameplay begins.  For a three dimensional adventure platformer, the camera is located perfectly.  It’s not too far, it’s not too wide.  Its “over the shoulder” just enough that you don’t quite recognize that this is a game.  You actually feel the cinematic experience; you don’t feel like you’re playing it such as other cinematic games like Metal Gear or Shenmue.  Everything Journey has to offer is smooth and coherent.  Graphics, sound, camera, art direction, gameplay; there is not a moment where you doubt what you’re experiencing.

Cinematic tension well built.

The synopsis of Journey is that the cloaked entities must go on a journey to a mountain in the distance.  Along the way, utilizing online play, your cloaked being will meet others who are on the same quest.  The only way to communicate with them is through a “call button”.  Very little is described in the game itself.  A lot of gamers may not like this but in my opinion, it definitely works.  It gives a sense of mystery and alienation, something I find to be very vital to the charm of Journey.  It is not a game for the casual or “hardcore”, it is an experience.

Buddies!

What I love about Journey is how multiplayer is handled.  Every time you play, you’re meeting a new character.  They may be really helpful or absolutely clueless.  Sometimes they’ll appear, sometimes they will disappear (there are moments where you can lose your buddy).  It’s amazing how much can be understood with no dialogue and only one form of communication.  This game shows that a story doesn’t always need words; it proves that all a story requires are simple stimuli.  The lighting, the sounds, the use of colors and visuals.  It was very clear whoever directed this game studied film—which is why I believe this belongs on my blog.  During my first play through, I really felt that the boundaries between the two entertainment mediums were being blurred.  A critic of the arts may not like the sound of this but I do feel this piece opens up a whole new field for new stories to be told.  More game designers and companies need to follow Journey‘s path.

Contrast to show fast paced action.

If you have a PlayStation 3 and fifteen bucks to burn, buying Journey would be money well spent.  I have replayed this “experience” more than five times and have not been bored.  There are quite a handful of secrets to unlock and the ending will make you shed a tear.  This is an experience with purpose and meaning: the beauty of struggle, the cycle of life and, ultimately, why we want to live.  It may sound like this is a deep movie and, stepping back, it really is; an interactive one at that.

What would go great with this ?

Serve with…
Chicken Shawarma
Accommodating beverage…
Moroccarita

Rating:

Critic Value: 10/10

For once, a game that has literary voice and more than just a message or two… without using any words.  Once again, it’s an experience that requires you to recollect yourself after.

Quality Value: 10/10

Graphics, sounds, visuals, gameplay are all A grade.

Entertainment Value: 10/10

As I said up in the Critic Value section, it’s an experience that requires you to recollect yourself once finished.  It’s a game that cannot technically end.  It’s a piece about the marriage of purpose and life.  You must play it to believe it.

NOTE: Congratulations developers behind Journey and the members of thatgamecompany, you are the first to receive full 10 out of 10s on my blog!