Journey Review | Reversing the Sands of Time

Journey

Journey for PlayStation 4 offers the brightest, prettiest and smoothest way to play one of the best indie games all time.

Sony has a handful of exclusive, classic indie games that can sneak their way into any top game list no matter the time frame. By time the original Journey came out in 2012, the indie scene already felt cluttered with hits that filled gaps between triple-A contenders with quality and ingenuity in one package. It was Thatgamecompany’s third title, behind Flow and Flower, that seemed to explode the traditional genres of shooter, platformer etc. into what were only describable as experiences with the entire package feeling important to the game’s quality and success instead of just a single quirk or area.

Journey
Your Nomad in a handsome scarf.

Three full years later has done little to diminish your Nomad’s unspoken, barely-guided quest and the highs and lows a newcomer can experience within the varied world. What you gather of the story is almost entirely up to you with littered hieroglyphics acting as tomes on the prosperity and decline of a civilization. This Nomad’s mission is simple: get to the top of a shinning mountain. What he discovers along the way is part of what gives Journey its impact on an emotional and artistic level.

Anyone that played the PlayStation 3 version can notice the graphical difference almost immediately, but shouldn’t be blown away by these upgrades to an already HD game. Sands and winds seem to move more smoothly while the Nomad still slides and glides with a frictionless grace. The Nomad’s movements are still appropriately fluid when descending one of the many dunes and depressingly difficult when taking on a high incline. You feel every step and fall, giving you a connection to the Nomad through both fluttering and heavy movements alone.

Journey
Tow Nomads having a peaceful meditation.

Despite a few—very few—technical hiccups, nothing seemed to slow down the gameplay. Online partner integration was seamless with their communication being essential to finding some hidden power-ups, even with only a series of musical tones at their disposal. The Nomad’s fairly large array of animations are on display constantly without any glitches to speak of while the ever-lengthening cape can sometimes break into sharp angles but often follows every bend and curve. These are quibbles and ultimately do little to break the intended mood of the landscape and platforms ahead.

Any problems with this version of Journey come straight from the same problems you had with the previous edition. Personally, the rotating camera being mapped to tilting the controller one direction or the other feels like a needless reminder to sit straight and pay attention. With the vivid colors and aural feedings Thatgamecompany offers, there’s no need to limit your audience to a straight back and firm wrists.

Journey

Those same problems persist because other than the visual enhancements, this is the exact same Journey as on PlayStation 3. Those that didn’t own Sony’s previous system probably won’t fret over that detail, but some upgrading customers may find the lack of new content – even with the free upgrade – a bit hard to swallow. That’s not to say that this experience is missing a photo mode or needed much else as this is a one-of-a-kind experience that may never be duplicated, just as it was three years ago.

Anyone coming to a Sony console for the first time with PlayStation 4 can rest assured that this is an HD remake that is essential to play akin to The Last of Us. While not an original game this time around, Journey is still a perfect example of an everlasting classic born out of a team hitting every note just right with every sway of their lengthy, red scarves.

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