I had heard a lot about this strange little game and it was free one month on PS Plus so I jumped at the chance to play it. I had heard that it was only a short game and that people had such emotional reactions to it. I was very intrigued as to why everyone would be raving about such a little short game.
It is only around two hours long, and it is literally a journey. It is a very pretty game, traveling through some different terrains and figuring out simple puzzles to help you onto the next leg of the journey. It’s hard to know how much to say about this game because a lot of people think some of the beauty of the game it is in the unknown, and its more of an experience that you need to have for yourself. It is a visually and auditorily a beautiful game. That is definitely a lot of what made it enjoyable to me.
Once you have finished the game you might be left feeling emotional, feeling delighted, feeling underwhelmed or wondering what the hell just happened. I was the latter two. After doing some reading of other peoples opinions and theories of the game I decided to give it another go. There is no platinum trophy but it is an easy 100% and it’s not as if it takes a long time to play. I played again, this time with a better understanding of the game. I finished it again and this time, I actually shed a tear. I can’t even explain it. The game has its vague but literal storyline as well as a metaphorical one and it just got to me the second time. It must be a mixture of the music, the visuals and the meanings.
If you can get it for under £5 then you might like too, it depends on your gaming style. If you are only a FPS and action gamer then you may not like this. However, if you like quirky, different games and experiences then this may be more your cup of tea. I can’t really say it is story driven – there isn’t any dialogue – but I can say it kept me thinking for a few days later and telling everyone about it. I don’t even know exactly why, but it did make an impact and that’s what matters.
SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE ALREADY PLAYED THE GAME TO THE END.
I just wanted to talk a little bit about my experience of the game. I couldn’t really talk about above this without spoiling it for new players.
So at the very beginning I had no idea what to do. I stood for probably 10 minutes at the first little cloth creatures jumping around and not having a clue. Eventually I moved on and finally figured out the controls (or at least a little bit (it’s not like they are hard (I am a bit slow))). The first time I saw someone else was at the bridge level. It wasn’t a surprise though because I had already read that you can meet other people throughout your journey. We didn’t stay together. I still didn’t really know what to do and was exploring every nook and cranny. As I went on though someone took me under their wing. I think it was on the underground level with the monsters. They were pinging at me every time they found a collectible and showing me where to go. We stayed together till right near the end. When we were on that mountain, I have to say, I saw it coming and I was sat laughing that we had both keeled over and died. Although I was sad as our scarves were getting smaller. Am I a monster? Then when it got to the last level, as we were going through the final, fun, colourful area I got stuck on a waterfall and lost my buddy! I was absolutely gutted. Right as I got to the end I found another person. I have no idea whether it was the person that I had done most of the game with or a new person. Either way, we walked into the light together. I have got to say, I was sat staring at the screen in confusion, finding it funny and strange and not having a clue what I had just played.
Once I had read up online I started to understand it a bit better. The people used the carpet creatures to build their society but started taking advantage, using their powers too much and not treating them well. Two sections of society got into a war and created the watcher creatures to fight the other side/protect their resources. The creatures instead went out of control and destroyed both sides of society. This little soul now keeps getting reincarnated trying to do the Journey to the mountains, freeing the carpet creatures as they go.
Then there is the symbolic version. Each different stage is a stage in life. The beginning is when you are young and don’t have a clue, just learning what to do. Then you solve problems as you get older (the bridge). The sand skiing level is the prime of your life when everything is exciting. Then come the scary challenges that everyone has to face (the creatures). Lastly there is a big climb and the challenge of adulthood before we all eventually slow down and pass on. Then the last level is the afterlife, full of joy and wonder. Then we are reborn to go through a different but ultimately the same journey. Bearing all of this in mind, I started my second play-through with the intention of getting all of the collectibles.
I met someone that was obviously new and hadn’t played before. They were very chatty. Ping Ping Ping. I decided to stick with them. I’m pleased I did. It was quite a journey. Every time something could go wrong it did, I saw things that I didn’t see during my first Journey. They fell off the snowy cliff when the wind blew, they got attacked by those creatures a million times, it was pretty hilarious really, I felt sorry for the poor dude. The whole time – Ping Ping Ping. Even as we were dying on the mountain our Pings were fading. I was so pleased we made it to the end together and we Pinged away into the light. That’s when I actually started to feel emotional and shed a tear. It’s such a weird game and symbolism always goes straight over my head. I don’t even know why I was sad. I don’t know if it was sadness but it was definitely some kind of emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed going from the student to the master and showing the newbie through their first play-through, communicating the best we could throughout the whole game. It was definitely something.
The next day I was having a day out with my friend at a nature reserve and we saw some fish jumping out of the river. It turns out they were probably salmon. It got me thinking. Salmon are born away from the sea, as they grow they cruise along the river and follow the current into the sea where they then mature. Once they are mature they then go back to the very same river they came from, fighting the current, jumping over waterfalls, making a treacherous journey so that they can lay their eggs and make the next generation of fish. They then usually die, although some have been known to make the journey more than once. This made me all emotional again but at the same time in complete awe. These animals don’t get enough credit. I couldn’t help but see similarities to the game and thought it would make an amazing game of its own. You could even pass the youngsters going in the opposite direction on the start of their journey as you were nearing the end of yours. That game would have me sobbing if it was based on the real life of a Salmon. So amazing.
What did you think of the game? Did it hit your emotions? Did you have a similar experience? Was your interpretation of the story different than mine? Please discus, it is a fascinating game!