- Entirely unique experience
- Beautiful art style
- Ingenious use of multiplayer
- Only two hours long
We’re writing this having not read any other reviews of Journey for PS3. We urge you to play the game the same way. So that means averting your eyes, not reading anything about it and generally avoiding all critical analysis that might attribute 'good' or 'bad' to its qualities.
That includes these words here. Go log on to PSN on your PS3 on release day (14 March), pay the £9.99 and off you go. You won't regret it.
Still with us? OK, you may be one of the many who is reluctant to spend just shy of a tenner on a download game on hot air without some value-related incentive. Sure, this could be like charging £9 for Plants v Zombies on PSN when it's only £1.99 on iOS, we understand.
Trust us, the epic scope and emotional resonance of Journey will more than compensate your pennies, leaving you contemplating your two-hour adventure days later. It's proof that downloadable games can be as epic as a Terrence Malick Hollywood art flick without being anywhere near as annoying. Enjoy.
You're still here, aren't you? It was the "two hours" thing, right? Sorry, yes, it's only two hours long, but then so is Fight Club, and how good is that? Bet you paid more than £10 for it on Blu-ray, too. We reckon you also paid four times that amount for Call of Duty, but were you still thinking about its themes and drives two days later? Get downloading.
Time for some context: think the beautiful isolation and humbling scale of Shadow of the Colossus, the sweeping strings and eternal search for resolution of The Fountain, the silent protagonist and primal sense of duty of Wall-E, the sands and funky togs of those 80s Turkish Delight adverts. Anyone managing to squeeze that into 120 minutes deserves your time, no?
Right, what do you actually do: urged on by a thirst for purpose and a sporadically appearing deity offering encouragement and direction, you explore a vast, every-changing terrain that shifts from desert heat calm to underwater chills and finally snow-crusted blasts of hostility, uncovering and researching relics from a distant past to reveal the meaning of life.
Oh, what do you actually do on screen? Solve a succession of basic logic puzzles in a linear, faux open-world to unlock a succession of doors.
But so beautifully constructed and epically envisioned is the skin over this structure by Thatgamecompany, the developer behind previous esoterically excellent PSN hits Flower and Flow, and so evocative the nailed-on-award-winning score by Austin Wintory that you are emotionally as well as figuratively lost in its otherworldy deserts, seeking your own answers. Or others', if you choose multiplayer.
It's not quite Team Deathmatch, you just occupy the same space as one random other, silently and namelessly, helping or hindering or ignoring each other however you choose. It’s a bit like Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's Alliance, without the daggers, plot and enemy players. You, yourself and them, unsettling yet unique and unifying. A work of art.
There’s even a bit in it where you can do ramp jumps like Tony Hawk. Except you're a robe-wearing faceless alien surfing on sand dunes while you're attacked by flying spinal cords with Terminator laser-gun eyes, so it’s better. Except you won't think so now, because you've read this review. We did tell you not to.
Journey availability: 14 March 2012 (PSN)
Journey price: £9.99