Wednesday, 21 March 2012 17:20

'Play Journey': Meet stranger: cry?'

'Journey' is easy to be a jerk about. It's practically got the word 'art' sticky-noted onto its forehead. Maybe it looks better then a painting, if you don't look at paintings. Like all 'art games,' it does not focus on either substantial game mechanics or on a story; it's about an aesthetic (like all 'art games,' a pretty somber one) and it's about getting the 'player' to 'feel' 'something.' You can tell the developers actually used those words in interviews. It's that kind of game.

I'm not going to be a jerk, though, because 'Journey' is worth talking about, mostly for its really fascinating co-op ideas. Maybe you could argue for some value in it as a simple aural and visual piece, if you're that kind of guy, but without this multiplayer I don't see what more you'd get from playing it on a PS3 than from watching somebody else play it on YouTube.

Your journey is spent wandering through a desert and a cave, headed for some snow-capped mountain in the distance. Each area is a gentle bubble, wide open and populated by a handful of simple, ambiguous objects. There are no 'puzzles' per se, just a couple of structures, ideas or characters floating around for you to play with until you see how to move on - how to continue the journey. A really wonderful Cracker Jack cluster of ideas appears near the end, attaining that mythic balance between aural, visual and mechanical feedback to hit what feel, maybe, like a couple pretty genuine emotional notes.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 17:17

Questionable Motives

The emotions beneath gameplay

What do we actually want out of a game?

Seriously, have we ever just asked ourselves the question, then sat down and thought about it? Have we just had our nose too deep in our favorite stories for so long that we've never really given thought to why the crap we actually enjoy them? Far too often, we just accept the game as is. We know we like a certain style of game, we form camps around every type of game, from role-playing games to first-person shooters, to horror and strategy games. We embrace the intricacies and obtuseness that comes with them, generally unapologetically. But at the same time, we never ask why things in these genres are the way they are. We've blindly wandered into these games thousands of times without so much as a thought to why we relate so well to certain aspects of them. For the first time in my life, I'm going to ask these questions that I never got around to asking.

Published in Tekk
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