It’s been five years since thatgamecompany released their smash hit Journey. I recently replayed Journey and I’ll be talking about how the game stands up five years later and how some of this year’s indie classics may have been inspired by indie game.
(While you read, it’s worth listening to the Soundtrack to Journey)
So for those of you that don’t know Journey is an indie game originally released exclusively for the Playstation 3. Journey quickly became the fastest selling PSN game as of May 29th, 2012. In the game you play as a robed figure figure trying to get to the top of a mountain with a light shining into the sky. It’s a relatively linear 3-D roaming game. Your character traverses a desert, an underground cavern, and a blizzard covered mountain.
Journey does feature a multiplayer option although I found it difficult because you can’t really communicate with the person you play with. Also you can only play with people you meet during your “journey” and you can’t invite a friend to play with you. This is kind of a bummer because most of the time you just run by people and don’t even realize that they are in your game. When talking about Journey’s multiplayer designer/director Jenova Chen had this to say:
“It’s about two strangers who meet online. They don’t know who they are or how old they are. All they know is, that it’s another human being.” – Jenova Chen
I would say Journey’s success really opened the door for the wave of indie games to come out afterwards. Sony gave more attention to indie developers so they could make really great games and add to the roster of great playstation exclusives. Just this past year we were treated to some incredible games like Inside, Hyper Light Drifter and Oxenfree. Those three games come highly recommended if you haven’t yet had a chance to play them. But I think that indie games on consoles received a tremendous boost from the ground work that Journey was able to lay. Also I think Journey legitimized indie game production not only as a game that can rival AAA titles but also as an artistic experience. And that leads me to the score.
The music of Journey of is great. Plain and simple. Austin Winory delivers a mesmerizing and brilliant score that takes you through so many emotions as you progress through the game. I would like to argue that Journey is just as much a visual album as it is a video game. If you don’t want to take my word for it, in the history of the Grammy’s Journey is the only game to ever be nominated for it’s score. Although it lost to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo just to be even recognized by an association like the Grammy’s is a huge step in the direction for indie games and the composers commissioned to them. The three games I mentioned before, Oxenfree, Inside and Hyper-Light Drifter all take the scores seriously and deliver beautifully done pieces to push the game beyond the great story and gameplay each one delivers. Especially Hyper Light Drifter’s score which is done by Diasterpeace, the same musician who scored the cult classic It Follows in 2014.
So coming back to Journey five years later. I have to say I am incredibly pleased that it holds up. The game is as smooth and fluid as ever, and the emotional beats still tug on the heart strings of anyone playing or watching this game. I highly doubt another 5, 10, or even 20 years will make this game feel any less amazing.