"Journey" review: Video game or work of art?

Sony

Journey Review: Today's greatest example of video games as art
Sony

(CBS News) "Journey" is not like most modern video games.

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It doesn't appeal to the adrenaline-fueled, murder junkie inside of us. Instead, it's a simple yet emotionally compelling experience that ranks right up there with "Limbo," "ICO" and "Shadow of the Colossus" as one of today's greatest examples of video games as art.

Divulging too much about the game would betray the impact it is meant to have as you discover its intricacies for yourself. As the title suggests, the experience is in the journey itself. Simply put, you are a lonely robed figure making his way to a far off mountaintop across a land that is not as desolate as it first seems.

The controls are simple and intuitive and would be right at home on an old Nintendo controller. The left analog moves your character while the X and O buttons allow you to jump and interact with your environment respectively.

How exactly you traverse and interact with your surroundings is inventive and often unexpected. The camera can be controlled either via Sixaxis or the right analog buttons and the screen is refreshingly devoid of a heads-up display. There's nothing between you and the game.

The inclusion of multiplayer is similarly at once simplistic and innovative. It is refreshingly free of trash talking, noob-killing sociopaths. In fact, there's no lobby, party requests or any other conventional indication of modern multiplayer experiences. Instead, you may find that during your solitary pilgrimage that the game has quietly allowed another player to cross your path. There's no voice-chat, no gamer IDs - just another traveler along for the ride.

Should you happen across a fellow traveler, a simple unspoken bond is formed. Despite the few fringe benefits of having a pal along, you'll largely find the lure of companionship is the inexplicable emotional bond you form with this nameless wanderer by your side. Together you'll suffer harsh terrains and terrors of the dark, overcome obstacles and discover the secrets of this magical world.

"Journey" is short. In fact it can be completed in less than two hours - placing it as one of modern gaming's most succinct of experiences. However, its brevity doesn't undercut its impact. It's a fine example of a game successfully moving away from the mainstream - from what is expected. It's not about killing the bad guys or rescuing the princess. It's about having a meaningful emotional experience.

"Journey" is available now for download on PlayStation 3. It is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.

  • Matthew Rodriguez

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