...And then, I played Journey.
the trailer suggests, it's a game in which the journey is the most
important part. As the trailer also suggests, there is a co-op mode,
meaning you can play alongside someone else. The co-op is very unique,
however, in that you don't choose who you play with. In fact, you don't
even choose if you get to play with someone. The co-op is randomly
selected, depending on whether or not someone is playing in the same
area as you at the same time. They could also leave at any point, making
your experience different every time. Sometimes they'll be replaced by
someone else and you'll have multiple companions. You can't talk to your
companion. You can only communicate in symbols, song notes and chirps.
You may not believe this, but it actually becomes a feasible means of
communicating, and you may find yourself understanding what your
companion is saying by the end of the journey.
lucky, in that I had the same companion throughout. I wasn't sure if I
had switched companions, but my suspicion of having the same one was
confirmed at the end when I was told the screen name of my buddy (thanks
for the great time, mrconkin! Sorry I kept falling off stuff; I have
terrible depth perception).
Near the beginning of the
game, I was walking alone when my companion, very suddenly, appeared
beside me. We were both overjoyed, and we sang back and forth and chased
each other in circles before progressing in our journey. The wide
expanses of the game's setting are enough to make a player feel very
small, so having a second person just like you to help you and stand
beside you is startlingly powerful.
My companion was
very helpful, and tried to protect me and signal me where to go when
monsters appeared. He would sing to me to get my attention when he found
something. At one point near the end of the game, we had been
momentarily separated. I knew we were near the end, and I couldn't even
see the white bloom glow that hinted at his whereabouts. I felt lonely
and sad that we wouldn't be completing the journey together. I actually
started crying as I looked up at the beautiful, glowing expanse I was
soaring through, quietly wishing that my companion was there to see it
My husband, who was watching me play behind
me, saw the golden glow of my companion soaring up a long line of
scarves at the same time I did. Knowing how attached I had grown to this
guy in the mere span of 2 hours, he pointed him out, saying "there he
is!". I laughed, and the two of us were reunited once more. After
another brief separation, we were rejoined again, and we completed the
journey together, walking into the bright white glow side by side.
this, you would think I went on some sort of life-changing pilgrimage. I
almost feel as though I did, and I don't care how stupid that sounds.
game made me think of communication, and the inner workings of things
like language. The entire game, nothing is ever verbally communicated,
and it's not needed. You form ways of communicating with your companion,
and you learn more about the story by visual representation. Your
relationship to your companion reminded me a bit of ICO, in which you
also can't communicate other than by calling out. The bond is made
stronger, though, in Journey, by your companion actually being a real
person on the other side. A story I heard online was that someone played
a game of Journey with someone and sent them a message afterwards. That
person replied to them in Japanese, meaning they were both able to play
this game together when they may otherwise not have been able to do so.
It's incredible that a game can bring strangers together like that.
am truly captivated at the way these games can convey strong stories
without using any words. They both have linear stories with a beginning,
middle, and end, but the only way to communicate those stories is
through strong images and powerful music. And yet, I feel I have a
stronger response to these games than from any game I've ever played. It
seems that the games with the most minimalist storylines and gameplay
are the ones that really tug at me and make me think outside of the
I don't want to turn this into a video game
review blog, obviously, but being that both Journey and Flower are games
that have heavily inspired me (and the blog is called "When I'm
Inspired, after all) I felt compelled to share my experiences in
If either of these games appeal to you at all,
I really urge you to play them. My experiences are just that: my
experiences. You cannot truly know these games by listening to someone
else's commentary. You have to play them yourself to truly know.
Some people have talked about which is "better", but in my opinion they
can't be compared. They are separate, unique experiences that stand
Both of these games are great advocates of
non-violence in video games, as well as art in video games. Journey is
an excellent example of teamwork, as the only reason to work with
someone else in the game is for the sheer gratification of it. I feel
there is a little something in each thatgamecompany game that suggests
harmony and peace. If we all had that little something in us, I believe
the world could be a better place.
Our world is so full
of "stuff"--cars, buildings, and machines. In a world like this, it's
nice to find some simplicity, such as the simplicity you find in Flower
and Journey. The landscape and scenery can make you feel this unexpected
elation. It's too bad that can't be enough for all of us.
That is how these games have affected me. Have they affected you, too?
(Note: this post was was originally published on 3/16/12 at this link.)