We ask "why" not because we don't understand the acclaim Journey has received. On the contrary, we understand perfectly . It's amazing.
But now that this surreal masterpiece is grabbing awards left and right, one has to wonder about the reasons behind this reception. There's no doubt that Journey is an unbelievable production and one that echoes and resounds on a number of artistic and humanistic levels. However, in an industry that many claim is dominated by sequels and mainstream titles like Call of Duty , Halo , and Assassin's Creed , how is it that a much smaller game – one that some would argue isn't enough of a "video game" – has become such a critical darling? How is it so widely revered?
It has won Game of the Year at both GameSpot and IGN (and that isn't exactly common), and Journey has netted more Game of the Year awards from other significant sources as well. It'll certainly be nominated when we do our Awards in less than a week. But what precisely is it about this title that has everyone in love? Is it just so the critics can appear to be a little more enlightened and progressive? So they can get all creative and deep when writing about their pick for GotY? Or is it because Journey gave us a glimpse of something interactive entertainment could be? Without guns, without virtually any action of any kind; heck, even without arms…?
I have found Journey to be something of a litmus test for gamers. If someone says they "didn't get it" and just found it "boring," my immediate reaction to that is that this person…ain't so bright. Forgive me, but it seems akin to saying you can't watch a movie with subtitles, or you can't appreciate a symphony because it doesn't have a flashy light show, or you can't read anything but menus and fashion magazines. This tells me you lack a certain depth, a certain sensitivity, a certain ability to reflect and think on life in general. So maybe this is the chord Journey is striking; people like to know that they get it because it kinda gives their intellectual ego a boost. "I get this, and I feel better about myself because of that."
Then again, those who never want to be part of the crowd might opt to serve their ego differently. I.e., rail against Journey because they're the only ones smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors that everyone else has been fascinated by. Such people always have to be in the minority, regardless of the situation. In the end, I really believe there a variety of compelling societal and personal factors that have contributed to the gaming community embracing Journey . Thankfully, it's the right game to laud and applaud, so I have no problem with the result. 😉
Related Game(s): Journey