Graphics:
9.5
Gameplay:
9.8
Sound:
10.0
Control:
9.7
Replay Value:
10.0
Overall Rating:
10.0
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
SCEA
Developer:
Thatgamecompany
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Adventure
Release Date:
July 21, 2014


Journey was a memorable experience when I first played it and it became a Game of the Year Finalist at PSXE that year. It also won several other awards, as you might well expect. Now, three years later, Thatgamecompany’s splendid, minimalist adventure has returned on PlayStation 4 and quite frankly, it can’t get any better. At first, I was intent on determining the key differences with this updated version but after playing for only a few minutes, I once again became immersed in this singular, captivating experience. The sand shifted and blew, the mountain in the distance beckoned, and the world I traversed echoed with surreal sentiment. I was, once again, entranced.

Those who adored Journey on PS3 will find another level of appreciation on PS4. The fresh coat of paint, glossy and beautiful, infuses an already intoxicating quest with even more visual appeal. The 1080p/60fps package allows this strangely personal and probing quest to shine, to emit its pleasing, rapturous melody of graphics with even greater poignancy. As I mentioned in the original review, one could argue that such a landscape doesn’t warrant certain adjectives, and that its barren landscape might prove a shade boring. But the ingenious interweaving of sand, water and snow, despite the lack eye-popping special effects, continues to exert its power. You are at sea, lost in the gentle movements of a visual and aural symphony.

The work of award-winning composer Austin Wintory remains a highlight of the production. Those haunting, wonderfully complementing strings fill every step with emotion and interest. The base sound effects reflect the minimalist presentation – all you really hear are your steps on the terrain and the occasional cry of a mystical creature – so the spotlight is firmly on that amazing score. As you’re playing, you get the palpable sensation that the game itself was created around the score, as opposed to the other way around. The music fits everything so perfectly; you can’t imagine taking this particular journey without it. By placing the focus squarely on simple interaction and an engrossing soundtrack, the designers manage to enliven your senses, some of which aren’t oven teased when playing a video game.

For the most part, the gameplay is almost exactly the same as it was on the PS3. The 60 frames per second just means movement and animations went from painfully smooth to immaculately smooth. There is, I believe, a noticeable difference in the backdrops, which are cleaner and sharper, and the crispness of each effect – as minor as it may be – grabs your attention. There’s an unparalleled fluidity to Journey and with the heightened technical benchmarks, that fluidity is enhanced to almost ridiculous levels. You can’t stop playing simply because you’re caught up in the ceaselessly enrapturing flow and before you know it, the adventure will be over. Yes, we all know it’s only about two hours in length but I think we’ve tackled that issue to death, haven’t we? Here, length is irrelevant.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a brief summary: You are a strange, lonely creature who finds himself (or herself…or itself) in a forbidding landscape. When you first rise to your feet, after apparently crash-landing as a shooting star, you see nothing but sand. You take a few tentative steps and you notice that you have no arms and no mouth. You walk up the sand dune before you and after ascending, you espy a snow-capped mountain far off in the distance. At the center of that mountain is a light source of some kind; it seems to erupt from the center of the peak and radiate up into the heavens. It’s your only geographical marker of any significance and somehow, you get the tingling sensation that it’s your only hope. Or perhaps it’s your fate.