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April 8, 2013 | by  | in Arts |
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Games – Journey

You’re trailing through a landscape of tumbling hills and crashing mountain faces with bag of Scroggin, a fanny pack and the dirt road for company. You spot a fellow traveller coming toward you on the otherwise uninterrupted, outdoor panorama. Your eyes meet theirs. You squint-smile joyously at each other with a sense of mutual understanding. The wilderness has its way of making total strangers connect in a way that you simply don’t get on the street; the more isolated we are, the more we treasure company.

It is this sensation that the developers of Journey were trying to capture, and in doing so, managing to rake in a hefty handsome haul of
2012 Game of the Year awards. Journey is the final installment in Sony’s three game contract deal with developer ‘thatgamecompany’ (TGC).

Despite their cringe worthy meta-title, reminding me, regrettably, of our own sausage man ‘that—New Zealand television personality Leigh Hart—guy’, TGC have made themselves three very alluring games, each more beautiful than the last. The beginning of Journey is set in a golden desert, littered with the ruins of a mysterious past civilization, inhabited only by strange cloth creatures and yourself. You play as an androgynous, poncho-laden pilgrim, whose only apparent goal is to head to a large, light spewing mountain on the horizon. This minimalist concept is accompanied by an equally minimal storyline, which is pieced together by the tapestry-style wall art you’ll uncover on your way.

If you’re not much into video games, I’d certainly prescribe it as a first endeavor. along with it the fact that it is bite sized, Journey will at no point present you with any real challenge; this sounds like a negative, but it means that you can happily go at your own pace, tinkering with the world as you go. You can’t ‘die’ in Journey, and an ever-growing or diminishing scarf serves as your motive for avoiding mistakes and encouraging exploration. The music, winning Best Original Score at last year’s VGAs, and a Grammy nomination, accompanies the already dazzlingly pretty scenery. It all comes together in a nice pretty package that you can sit down and get comfy with.

I won’t jabber on much further as the game’s mystique does a lot for its charm. I’ll conclude only with a few instructions for you, in the event
that you are interested in trying it on: Play this game alone.

This is imperative. Although powerful, Journey is delicate; it will not survive a casual play amongst alcohol and jeering friends. While receiving rave critical acclaim unanimously amongst those paid to have opinions, it will receive negative reviews all round in such a context. The uncultured oafs.

Play it online.

Some say it isn’t a necessity, but considering what the developers had in mind when making the game, you’d be missing out on a whole bunch of juicy artist intention if you don’t, not to mention all of the sweet online cooperation and subsequent flirting.

All three of TGC’s Sony titles are downloadable from the PlayStation Network. Alternatively, you can issue it from the Design Campus library.
(Yes, you can issue games from there. Blew my mind too.) Don’t have Playstation Tres? All of the aforementioned games can be played at Game Masters, Te Papa. Go during school hours and take a significant other, it’s quite a charming wee exhibit.

Game Masters, featuring over 100 playable games, showcases 40 years of gaming history, and is on at Te Papa until 28 April.

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