Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Game Review: Journey

After spending many weeks intermittently playing the excellent "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" whenever I had some free time, I finally finished it to make way for some new titles I received as Xmas gifts, 'Journey' & 'Saints Row 3'.

Despite generally being non-violent & a pacifist, I usually like to play 1st & 3rd person shooters. Violent video games are always a scapegoat when mass shootings take place- but like anything else, they are only dangerous in the hands of a person who's already deranged. "Saints Row 3" is one of the more over-the-top games I've ever seen & is rated 'Mature' for good reason. Playing that game, though, is not going to make the average person go out & do something crazy in real life.

On the other hand, I also like to play games that have artistic merit deeper than just amazing graphics & production values. "Shadow of the Colossus" for PS2 was a title that was really outside the box & compelling from an aesthetic point of view.

After seeing reviews & some footage, "Journey" seemed to be an interesting game that broke the mold.


Since the game itself was fairly quick (I finished it in 2 short nights), I'll try to keep this review brief.

The main character is a mysterious robed figure, who travels across a desolate but beautiful landscape. As you travel through the different environments, you uncover clues about a civilization whose Arabesque ruins are everywhere.

There is no dialogue at all, & the story behind the lost civilization is told through stylized murals that are illuminated as you progress.

In the distance, there is always a mountain with a cleave in it, emanating bright light like a beacon. This is the obvious goal - to reach this far off peak. The mountain itself is a symbol of the divine feminine, Mother Earth, & the seemingly insurmountable challenge of the hero's journey.

The game itself is a metaphor for Life. By the time the unconventional ending is reached, you realize that the goal was not actually some final endpoint, but to enjoy the experience of the journey.

There are a couple instances in the story when the character "dies" & is dissolved into a totally white screen. This resonated with my experience of The Clear Light that I once experienced myself.

This is a unique game that is definitely worth checking out if you like titles that offer something different than the standard fare.

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 8.5

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