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Journey is an indie video game developed by Thatgamecompany and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. It was originally released on March 13, 2012, via the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3. In Journey, the player controls a robed figure in a vast desert, traveling towards a mountain in the distance. Other players on the same journey can be discovered, and two players can meet and assist each other, but they cannot communicate via speech or text and cannot see each other's names. The only form of communication between the two is a musical chime. This chime also transforms dull, stiff pieces of cloth found throughout the levels into vibrant red, affecting the game world and allowing the player to progress through the levels. The robed figure wears a trailing scarf, which when charged by approaching floating pieces of cloth, briefly allows the player to float through the air. The developers sought to evoke in the player a sense of smallness and wonder, and to forge an emotional connection between them and the anonymous players they meet along the way. The music, composed by Austin Wintory, dynamically responds to the player's actions, building a single theme to represent the game's emotional arc throughout the story.
Reviewers of the game praised the visual and auditory art as well as the sense of companionship created by playing with a stranger, calling it a moving and emotional experience, and have since listed it as one of the greatest games of all time. Journey won several "game of the year" awards and received several other awards and nominations, including a Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media nomination for the 2013 Grammy Awards. A retail "Collector's Edition", including Journey, Thatgamecompany's two previous titles, and additional media, was released on August 28, 2012. The game was released digitally for the PlayStation 4 on July 21, 2015 and a physical edition was released on October 2, 2015.
In Journey, the player takes the role of a robed figure in a desert. After an introductory sequence, the player is shown the robed figure sitting in the sand, with a large mountain in the distance. The path towards this mountain, the ultimate destination of the game, is subdivided into several sections traveled through linearly. The player can walk in the levels, as well as control the camera, which typically follows behind the figure, either with the analog stick or by tilting the motion-sensitive controller. The player can jump with one button, or emit a wordless shout or musical note with another; the length and volume of the shout depends on how the button is pressed, and the note stays in tune with the background music. These controls are presented pictorially in the beginning of the game; at no point outside of the credits and title screen are any words shown or spoken.
The robed figure wears a trailing magical scarf which allows the player to briefly fly; doing so uses up the scarf's magical charge, represented visually by glowing runes on the scarf. The scarf's runes are recharged by walking, or a variety of other means. Touching glowing symbols scattered throughout the levels lengthens the initially vestigial scarf, allowing the player to remain airborne longer. Larger strips of cloth are present in the levels and can be transformed from a stiff, dull gray to vibrant red by singing near them. Doing so may have effects on the world such as releasing bits of cloth, forming bridges, or levitating the player. This in turn allows the player to progress in the level by opening doors or allowing them to reach previously inaccessible areas. The robed figure does not have visible arms to manipulate the game world directly. Along the way, the player encounters flying creatures made of cloth, some of which help the player along. In later levels, the player also encounters hostile creatures made of stone, which upon spotting the player rip off parts of the figure's scarf.
In each level, the player may come across one other player temporarily connected to their game. When players approach each other they charge one another's scarves. They cannot communicate with each other beyond patterns of singing. Players can help each other by activating strips of cloth or showing paths, but cannot hinder each other and are not necessary for completing any level. When two players finish a section at the same time they remain together into the next one; otherwise they are connected to new players when they move on. While all of the figures generally look the same, without distinguishing characteristics, individual players can be told apart by unique symbols which are shown floating in the air when they sing and are displayed on their robes at all times. The entire game takes about two to three hours to complete.
Journey's story is told wordlessly throughout gameplay and using cutscenes. The player's character begins on a sand dune in a seemingly endless desert. In the far distance looms a large, foreboding mountain with a glowing crevice that splits its peak. As the character approaches the mountain, they find remnants of a once-thriving civilization, eroded by sand over time. Scattered throughout the ruins at the end of each area are stones at which the traveler rests; these stones give the traveler the vision of meeting a larger, white-robed figure in a circular room, with art on the walls describing the rise and fall of the civilization mirroring the player's journey. The player must also contend with the ancient automatons left over from a war which ended the civilization, and which still roam the city looking for intruders.
The player continues to journey deeper into the remains of a once sprawling city at the base of the mountain. Eventually making it safely to the mountain, the traveler begins to climb it, struggling as they enter the colder climates and encounter deep snow and high winds. With the crevice still a fair distance away, the traveler falls and collapses in the snow. Six of the white-robed figures appear before the character and grant the traveler new energy, allowing the player to reach the summit of the mountain and walk into and through the crevice as the screen fills with white. The player is then shown the game's credits, playing over the ending cinematic scene. This scene shows a shooting star emanating from the crevice and traversing the path the traveler took through the ruins, and shows glimpses of other robed travelers heading towards the mountain. Eventually, the star comes to rest at the sand dune where the game began, and the player is given the option of starting the game again. As the credits end, the player is shown the PlayStation Network IDs of the other travelers who shared part of the trek.