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Journey

I just finished playing Journey. It was amazing, as I’d hoped. thatgamecompany is so damn good at their craft.

Sadly though, the automatic, drop-in multiplayer actually detracted from my experience. I thought they’d only use it sparingly, which could have worked, but instead they paired me with other players for most of the game.

They do such a great job building this haunting, mysterious, lonely world, and then ruin it by sticking you with a pesky kid brother. Hey, jump jump jump, beep beep, oh wow look over here I found something! Ooh, is that a puzzle? I can solve that, here, let me!

Sigh. I could play it again with ethernet unplugged, but I’ve already experienced the (ahem) journey, so it won’t have the same impact. I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed.

I listened to Robin Hunicke’s talk at GameCity from earlier this year, where she explained their motivation. They really wanted the one on one interaction to be a central part of the game, not just an add-on, and they definitely succeeded at that.

My discomfort may say more about me than anything else. I love exploring in games, especially when they have such a rich, atmospheric world. I’m also very introverted. Journey used an admirably light touch, and I could walk away from the other person at any time, but in the end, even just knowing they were there detracted from the immersion.

It’s still a great game, and I highly recommend it. If you play it, though, and you’re an explorer like me, consider signing out of PSN first.

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2 thoughts on “Journey

  1. I hear you, in terms of the pairing/interaction. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t really play things like CoD, Halo, etc on Xbox Live. I prefer to play at my own pace and direction. Give me a game like Skyrim any day :-)

    Looking at the trailer, the art style and music reminded me greatly of Shadows of the Colossus (fabulous game!). Some other parts of that trailer reminded me of Otogi, too.

    Metacritic gave the game a 93, so I may have to pick it up (tho I usually stick to Xbox, I’ve got a 360 and Wii for the awesome platform-specific games). And yeah: I’ll disconnect from PSN :-)

    Thanks for the pointer! I had missed this one… via Google+

  2. I played through Journey again last night with multiplayer turned off. The difference was interesting.

    On the surface, it was definitely more comfortable. I was able to go at my own speed, explore, appreciate the world, and devote my full attention to the experience, without the distraction of another player with different goals.

    However, I also played it more like a conventional game. I was more methodical about exploring the game world and finding secrets, which took away a bit of the magic and the pacing of the emotional arc.

    More importantly, I know it wasn’t the true experience TGC envisioned. They designed Journey from the ground up to be experienced with people – nameless people, but still, real partners that you accompany, try to communicate with, and grow attached to.

    I’ve had it both ways now, so maybe I got the best of both worlds. Plus, I got a few more trophies, so there’s that. Gotta love the Pavlovian collection instinct! via Google+

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