Ever since I first got my hands on the demo for Journey I simply couldn’t wait to purchase the full game, but as is often the case with these things I didn’t have the money at the time or release, other games were still being worked through and before long it was becoming a forgotten dream, lucky for me then that the wonderful people at Thatgamecompany (that is the actual name of the developer) sought to release a collector’s edition that would not only rekindle my interest in purchasing the game, but also greatly reward me for doing so.
Journey has been with us for a little over a year now and it’s already gone on to win many awards for its unique gameplay experiences, but the real standout feature of the Collector’s Edition is that it’s more of a boxset to Thatgamecompany’s work than it is to just Journey. The disc comes bundled with all kinds of bonuses aside from the obvious full game of Journey.
Included with the release are the award winning Flower, a game where you play as a gust of wind, controlled via the six-axis as you breeze around opening flowers, cutting a line through blades of grass and generally enjoying some of the most relaxing and beautiful digital experiences currently available, is it a game? I’m not even sure, is it great to play, oh yes! It’s even been pointed to many times when people bring up the topic of “can games be art”.
The we have flOw in which you also take the six axis to control a small organism in a body of water, float around, mind your own business, or “eat” other organisms by swimming into them, causing you to evolve into bigger and more fantastic looking things that vary in shape and size dependant on the organisms you eat. There is no objective, there are no levels, just the experience and it’s one that can easily take up hours of your time in single player, or as a co-op experience.
Yet in infomercial fashion “but that’s not all!” and you’ll even find three exclusive mini-games that are essentially smaller indie titles and they only seek to add to the value of the disc, even if they’re not the main attraction. There is a big bundle of concept art, sound tracks, PlayStation 3 themes, avatars and even a 30 minute documentary on the making of Journey, all in all, this is how a Collector’s Edition should be, full to the brim of content you would want to collect.
Journey is a fantastic gaming experience, it’s the most “game like” of the set and while there is no real purpose to it, you can’t help but get drawn into the magic of its environment. You take on the role of a small being, stood atop a sand dune with a light at the top of a mountain in the far off distance, your goal is to simply get to that light.
The game literally is about the journey and the adventures that come about from doing so, there is basically no tutorial and everything is done through discovery and intuition and in many ways that feels a lot better than having a voice over, or arrow, everything is suggested and you instinctively get a feel for how to control the game world.
Sliding down sand dunes, using the only two controls at your disposal beyond movement with the analogue stick, jump and sing to release what look like magic carpet creatures from traps, which help you ascend obstacles and make your way through the world.
The game also tells a story of your struggle through some cryptic but eventually revealing cutscenes that depict your struggle through each of the games sections, it’s all a little strange but also incredibly interesting to watch unfold before you. All in all the experience took me a few hours, but there is definitely a desire to go back and do it again and again, because you never know what you might find.
If I sound like I’m being vague with this game, I can’t help it, it’s a strange beast to describe and it’s more bordering on an experience rather than something definable like an FPS or RPG. One thing is for certain, the game is a feast on the eyes and the graphics are simply incredible, the sound and musical scores are fantastic and only get better when you’re running it through a surround sound system.
There are even some online elements to the game, now and then you may come across another player wandering the sands, you can help each other if you wish by singing at each other to recharge your jump ability, but there is nothing stopping you from going solo, interestingly it’s just as likely that you might not see anyone on your travels, it’s all just a little bit random in that respect.
All in all this is a game you really need to try your hand at, there is a demo on the PSN that is begging your attention and it will give you more than enough reason to splash out on the Collector’s Edition. But overall the best thing I find about this game is that a quick Google will find you a retail copy, brand new for just £15.00 and for six great games and a load of bonus content, this has to be one of the best gaming bargains I’ve seen in a long time.