Hey, so considering what my future job will be, I thought that it would be worthwhile to start putting some of my thoughts involving video games down on “paper.” These posts will be mostly drawn from my experiences with a particular game, so they most likely won’t have any links for references.
So with all of that precursor junk out the way let’s get into it. The other day I had the absolute pleasure to play a game called Journey. I know that it has been out for 2 years, but up until this point I haven’t had access to either a PS3 or a copy of the game. But I recently got access to both of those things and so I finally played Journey. I had already seen a playthrough, so I knew just how short it was. So having set aside the two hours I knew it would take to complete. I began my Journey (heh see what I did there?).
I won’t really talk much about the game because I feel that what it contained wasn’t as important as what I got out of it. That may sound harsh but let me explain. If you look at Journey from a purely mechanical standpoint it is so bare bones to the point of almost not being a game. You play as a piece of cloth walking in a desert. But even with that few mechanics Journey has managed to make its way into it’s place as one of my favorite games of all time. This is bizarre for me because in my mind mechanics has always and I mean always trumped story. Because of this I have heavily enjoyed games like Super Meat Boy, Spelunky, Rayman Origins/Legends, and Hotline Miami. Those games may have story but it is either silly to the point of uselessness or there is none to speak of.
So that begs the question why did enjoy Journey so much? I have a couple theories as to why. My biggest one is that the ambiance and the atmosphere of the game was so cohesive and beautiful that any other shortcomings fell to the wayside. My other one is that this game was just so minimalistic compared to other games that I have played, that I enjoyed it simply due to the change of pace. It could be a combination of both of these things or something entirely different than that.
When I say that this game was cohesive and that all of the elements worked together in unison I mean that they fit perfectly. If you were in the middle of a moment that was supposed to be thrilling the music would climb to a crescendo and lift you to greater heights. During that section the mechanics were fast paced adding more to the feeling speed and excitement. The graphics would also add on to this with gorgeous set pieces and really stylized lighting. Then there were the times when your character was downtrodden and beaten. The game would change how he looked, you would walk slower, and the music would be more somber and slow. This perfect unison of all of the elements of the game meant that when the developer wanted you to feel something you really felt it.
Speaking of highs and lows I would also like to mention that this game is paced perfectly. The other day I watched a cool video by Extra Credits that was about pacing in video games. In the video it talks about how well pace video games make you feel awesome and then cool it down and then make you feel awesome again in an ever increasing series of peaks and valleys. As I was playing Journey I noticed that it followed the pacing graph in the video perfectly. Journey also slammed it home by bringing the experience back together and winding the game down with an extremely satisfying ending.
It is definitely worth mentioning that Journey stands as a game that has no fighting amidst a sea of shoot em ups and action games. I loved that the game took gameplay in a different direction than combat. Not many games do that these days, and it made Journey all that more special of an experience.
So what is my main point in this post besides Journey being a great game? Games are about experience. Not “xp” or leveling a character, but rather the experience that a player gains through play. While some people say that games are about making a player feel something, I think that is missing the mark by a little bit. Games are making the player experience something. Whether that is an emotion, an epiphany, or an epic journey, if a game succeeds in conveying the intended experience to a player, I view that as a major success. There are different ways in which games do this, and hopefully I will be able to cover them in future posts. However, as it is now I think I’ve covered mostly everything I wanted to and so I’ll leave at that.