Game Reviews - Reviews

Journey (Sony, PS4)


While the debate about home consoles and backwards compatibility rumbles on, the likes of Sony are steadily bringing out remastered, upscaled ports of recent classics. This can only be a good thing if it means that it brings more attention to bona fide masterpieces like Journey, a beautiful piece of design that defies easy-fit categorisation.

It is not so much that there are insufficient words to describe this strange and haunting game. Rather, it is more that words will only cause the player to prejudge what they are getting when they download it, and that would be a sad thing because so much of the admittedly brief lifespan of Journey hangs upon the elements of surprise and discovery. It is a title quite unlike any other. There is no shooting. There are no zombies, Nazi or otherwise. There is not a pneumatically figured woman in cut-offs mercilessly killing gorillas. No, the gameplay is remarkably sedate but endlessly fascinating. You play as a simply drawn but expressive robed figure in the middle of a vast desert, populated in places by ancient ruins and other expressive figures, and you must travel to a mountain in the distance that could perhaps hold the truth to the purpose of your pilgrimage. In terms of plot, such as it is, that is all you need to know, for the enjoyment of this short but very deep game stems from the metaphysical conundrum that it poses. It is similar in tone to The Unfinished Swan and to a certain extent Ico but these comparisons are superficial for such an innovative piece of work.

Yes, the graphics at first look sparse but so much emotion is expressed by the central character’s movements and, crucially, by the intuitive use of sound and music, that when the world opens itself up to you, the effect is inexplicably moving. This PS4 remaster only offers a few tweaks (if you already purchased it digitally on PS3, you can snag the redo for free). Journey is an odd, rich and wonderful piece of work. Ross Thompson