IT’S the journey that counts, not the destination.
Well, try telling that to a taxi driver in Mumbai. Sometimes, the destination is the whole point. Sony’s classic game Journey has been packaged as part of September’s PlayStation Plus offering. It will reach a whole new audience as a result. In that light, it’s worth revisiting the fervent discussion this game started when it was first released on PS3. Chiefly, what makes a game, well, a game?
Journey is an ‘experience’ first and foremost. Playing as a lone pilgrim, exploring a desert landscape peppered by ruins and ancient monoliths, your only explicit goal is to traverse the glorious landscape to progress to the next area. Sometimes, other players will appear alongside you, in a kind of parallel multiplayer symbiosis, as you watch each other try to solve puzzles and sometimes learn from each other. You are not expected to interact in a meaningful fashion, but simply to acknowledge that you are not alone on this daunting pilgrimage.
Everything in Journey is like that — this is a game about feeling and synaesthesia, of enjoying the gorgeous character animations and inch-perfect controls as your character flies through the air, a virtual passenger on a voyage through digital discovery. There is no speech, no intrusive music, no battle action or points tally. There is only the hum of the desert and this strange, communal gaming dream you share with the other players.
Is that enough? When all is said and done, the only sense of satisfaction that Journey can deliver is that vivid experience. The puzzles are too easy to satiate a gamer’s need for completion and there are no other primary objectives to overcome. In short, it really is about the journey.
We’re lucky that beautiful games like Journey get made, but there’s no denying these games require a new mindset. If you’re looking to level up, to improve, to hone skills, to interact, then this isn’t the game for you. With this particular journey, the destination hardly matters.
CONSOLES GET AN UPDATE
We’re on a strange journey with Microsoft and Sony right now. Both have announced updated versions of their current consoles, designed to run games at a higher resolutions and incorporate HDR technology. The thing is, much like criticisms levelled at Journey, we’re not sure what the point is. Are people really willing to pay for a new console in order to play at 4K resolution, when that resolution is only up-scaled anyway? Does HDR, which essentially makes games look a bit more colourful, reward splashing out on a new console?
It’s an interesting approach by the big guns. Sony have already announced that games like Shadow of Mordor and The Witness will be patched to make use of the new tech, while all Microsoft-developed Scorpio games will run natively at 4K instead of upscaling like most others. For the majority of the market, this will really be a case of mind over marketing — the technical upgrades won’t count for much where it really counts, which is new games.
NEW TITLES FROM TOKYO SHOW
The Toyko Game Show just wrapped up and while not many new games were announced, there were plenty of new details revealed for forthcoming projects. Death Stranding, the new title from Hideo Kojima, was revealed to be an open-world survival game with ‘unusual’ multiplayer. The way Hideo described it, Death Stranding will draw inspiration from Dark Souls in how players interact.
Meanwhile, Persona 5 looks weirder every time we see it. The RPG series is known for its dark undertones and anime influences, set during modern-day Japan. It usually features Japanese high-school students hunting demons, Pokemon-style. Persona 5 will be released in Europe next year.
Tekken 7 also got a new trailer, which will make beat-em-up fans very happy. It’s been a long time since a proper ‘Tekken’ was released and the seventh installment looks like it will really deliver on the character front — even Street Fighter’s Akuma has been added to the roster.
The first footage for Metal Gear Survive was also shown. Survive is Konami´s cash-in on the famous Metal Gear series. Survive is a multiplayer game in which players battle zombies. The Metal Gear series has been on a long journey since the 1980s, but ‘Survive’ might just be its final destination.
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