Gaming Nomad vs. Journey: Collector’s Edition
Journey is a critically acclaimed indie DLC game for the Playstation 3 that came out in 2012. Since it was a DLC game, it completely flew under my radar and I didn’t really find out about it till this year. I discovered a collector’s edition of the game was released by the cleverly named Thatgamecompany.
Not only did it include Journey, but also 5 other games by them and tons of extras so I thought I’d check it out. Because of the nature of this collection, I’m going to do this review a bit differently, giving a mini-review for each game. There are 3 main games: Journey, Flower, Flow and the 3 unreleased mini-games. However, before I get into that, I’d like to talk about the disc itself and what is on it.
In addition to the games, it has tons of extra content like concept art, behind the scenes documentaries, music, PS3 themes, and more. It’s quite impressive. The games themselves, however, cannot be played off the disc. You must install each game to your PS3 individually. I don’t exactly see the point of this. I can understand that the disc is just too packed with extras to run the games but why install them individually from a separate command? It should just install all the games as soon as you start the disc up. Anyway, it’s just a minor annoyance. Let’s take a look at the real reason you would want to get this.
The game starts out with a lone hooded figure walking across a vast desert when they spot a shining light in the sky and watches it crash into a distant twin-peaked mountain. Out of curiosity, the nameless figure begins their long trek to investigate what has fallen from the heavens. Instantly you’ll notice the minimalistic narrative of Journey. There is a story and a character but never is there any dialogue. The story is told solely through the visuals and its music. The controls and gameplay are very basic. You simply walk around and use musical/bird call like sounds to interact with your environment. Your character has a scarf that allows them to fly for a limited amount of time and you can collect items throughout the game to extend the scarf, extending your flight time. You encounter strange ruins and strange creatures across this vast desert that help you fly and travel as your journey progresses. Flying is a lot of fun when you get the chance and so is surfing down sand dunes.
I like how natural the game feels and does a lot to make you feel fully immersed. For example, you truly feel like you’re in an endless desert, however, this is a liner game. If you try to go too far to the left or right, the wind will become stronger and stronger, eventually blowing you back. In many other games, if you try this and you’ll just run into an invisible wall because the designers didn’t want you going that way, reminding you that this is just a video game. I will point out that the gameplay isn’t exactly the focus of Journey; it’s the experience. The developers wanted this to feel like a journey of the soul and that’s what they did.
Journey is more like a euphoric experience than a game.
That in itself is its greatest strength and weakness as the unconventional nature will turn off some gamers who expect more than just an experience from a game but that is ultimately a matter of taste. The graphics are gorgeous and heavily remind me of the visual style of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The attention to detail with the sand caught my eye, as it moves and blows naturally like real sand would. It looks beautiful especially in the levels the sand shines from the setting sun. The beautifully orchestrated music by Austin Wintory is the other half of what makes Journey work. All the composed music fits perfectly with what is happening on screen and truly helps tell the story.
Journey feels like it belongs in Fantasia with its visuals and musical score. However, since it is a DLC title, it is very short and you will find your journey coming to an end in around two hours. But I can’t fault it too much for its length, as it does wrap up nicely and is paced perfectly. It also offers some replay value and online co-op. Journey is a perfect example of a game that must be brought up in the “are video games art?” debate.
If you’re a fan of unconventional gaming and storytelling, Journey is a game you must experience.
Flower is the second game on the disc. It is even more unconventional than Journey and one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. How do I describe it? It’s like if someone took the CD-i game The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe and turned it into a flying game. As strange as that sounds, it’s actually pretty good and surprisingly fun. There isn’t really a story (I don’t think) but you select a blooming flower in some apartment in the city and then are taken to a field where you play as the wind. A pedal blows off a flower and the objective is the control the pedal in the breeze to hit more flowers causing them to bloom. The more flowers you hit, the more pedals you have blowing with you. The flowers make music when you hit them and, like with Journey, the game has a beautiful soundtrack, fitting of this one with nature feeling they are going for. As the flowers grow, the lifeless look the land fills with beautiful color and the goal is just to get nature to grow, I guess.
Also like Journey, it has a very peaceful and euphoric feel to it.
What makes Flower even more unique is that it uses the motion control abilities of the Dualshock 3 controller for all movement, a feature rarely used by PS3 games anymore. Sure some very early PS3 games used it but it was often very unresponsive and far easier just to use the joysticks. It would appear that the technology has been improved, as I am impressed with how responsive the motion control is with Flower. The only button you need is any of the four command buttons to just hold down for momentum. Titling the controller does the rest. Beyond that, there isn’t much to say about this game. It will definitely not appeal to all gamers, and like Journey, is meant to be an experience more than a game.
This is another game that is kind of hard to explain. You play as a microorganism in the ocean and swim around eating up other micro-creatures. The game has a top down perspective and multiple levels that you can alternate through. If you find a red microbe and eat it, it will cause you to dive deeper. If you find a blue microbe and eat it, you’ll return to the above level. The goal is to just eat as much as you can and grow bigger. You run into other hungry microbes that you can eat or run from so they don’t eat you. It’s a very simple game reminds me of that old game Snake. It is kind of addictive but there isn’t much depth to the game at all and becomes kind of boring rather quickly.
Like Flower, it also makes use of the PS3’s motion controls but it just isn’t as responsive as it was with Flower, making it harder to use. Visually, there isn’t much to look at either. The organisms have an arty design to them but still aren’t enough to carry the game. Four players can join in which might make the game more fun as everyone competes for food but by yourself, it’s kind of boring.
Now we get to the three mini-games that come on the disc.
These games were never released by Thatgamingcompany and I can see why. I can’t even see them as 99 cent phone app games.
Let’s take a look at the first and best of these mini-games.
In this game, you’re a Duke who goes around and destroys hunts to capture peasants to come serve him. They then go to cut down trees for you and once you have enough peasants and trees, you can build castles which earn you money. This is a two-player game and requires a second player or else there is no challenge at all. I like the marker board artistic look it has and reminds me of the Trogdor game. Definitely play with a friend for some quick fun.
Uhhh… Okay, so this game looks like something that would have been on the Atari 2600 or Colecovision. You’re a green thing… moving around a grave yard… fighting people? Or zombies? I have no idea what is going on in this game. I couldn’t tell if I was winning or losing or what I was supposed to be doing. Like Duke Wars, it too is two-players but, unlike Duke Wars, it is not nearly as self-explanatory. I say skip it.
What the hell am I playing? So you’re this chibi anime girl with a crappy ray gun, shooting at hoards of space sharks? Then you’re fighting a shark tank that shoots ninja cats at you and then the game ends… WHAT?! You can also turn into a demon girl but it doesn’t help much. I think this game is two players but I’m not entirely sure and it quickly lost my interest. It’s slightly better than Grave Diggers, as it is more straight-forward but still not very fun and just plain weird.
Overall, the game Journey itself is a must play for gamers who look to get more out of games than just owning n00bs online.
However, you can get Journey by itself fairly cheaply online. The question is, is it worth getting a hardcopy with all of Thatgamingcompany’s work? Unless you’re into collector’s editions, I’d say no. If you’re not interested in everything else on the disc, Journey and Flower can be downloaded cheaply. If you do want the collector’s edition, I suggest not paying more than $15 for it, if possible. Thanks for reading! Look forward to some upcoming gaming top ten lists and my pick for the 5 games of the year at the end of December!
- Journey is a must play gaming experience
- Tons of extras and behind the scenes looks
- Flower is another interesting game to experience
- Flow is less than interesting
- The mini-games range from fun to confusingly unplayable
- The two games worth playing on the disc can be downloaded separately for much cheaper