By Alex Kierkegaard / March 19, 2012
Let's get the allegations of "innovation" and "originality" out of the way first. thatgamecompany's first, let us call it "game", Flow, was a cheap, ugly, astonishingly dumbed down version of Pac-Man. Their second game, Flower, was yet another cheap, astonishingly dumbed down version of a well-established genre, that of flight simulators — though admittedly it can't be said to have been ugly (though that doesn't mean that much, since artistically the game was still utterly unremarkable, with no character design at all, and neither any stylization to compensate for that), which was certainly a step forward for them (though of course, by the standards of game design of the 21st century, AN UTTERLY NEGLIGIBLE ONE). Their third game, Journey, which will be the subject of our deliberations for the next couple of paragraphs, is yet another cheap, astonishingly dumbed down version of a well-established genre, that of the 3D platformer, and as for its aesthetics, they are about as technically accomplished as that of Flower's (which by the standards of contemporary PS3 games were merely about passable), and though this time there is an attempt at character design, this is as uninspired and unappealing as one would expect from "indie" bums, with the protagonist being basically a stunted faceless fagot with a robe and a scarf, essentially a ripoff (even down to the very color of the robe!) of those tiny robed creatures from The Empire Strikes Back (or was it Return of the Jedi?), which were shit to begin with, even as extras, never mind when raised to the status and importance of protagonist. And as for the co-op feature, in which the player encounters some other random player at some point, and (presumably) continues the 2-3 hour journey with him — though without being able to effect any degree of meaningful interaction with him — whoever thinks that's innovative should google Biohazard: Outbreak, or Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, or the Left 4 Dead games, or From Software's recent Demons' Souls and Dark Souls, to name, just off the top of my head, a few of the most well-known examples which employ the feature that the bums here have ripped off, without acknowledging it, and dumbed down to an astonishing degree. Essentially, whoever sees EVEN THE TINIEST HINT OF INNOVATION OR ORIGINALITY in this game, either got into games last week, and therefore simply doesn't know any better, or IS TOO DUMB TO MENTALLY STRIP A GAME OF ITS AESTHETICS AND MAKE MEANINGFUL MECHANICAL COMPARISONS, period. Which of course perfectly describes everyone reviewing games today apart from me and the rest of the Insomnia crew.
I mean, just watch a video of this thing in action, even for a couple of minutes, and tell me it doesn't look EXACTLY like any random 3D platform collectathon from the past 10 or 15 years, ONLY WITHOUT ANY ENEMIES OR DANGER OF SOMEHOW LOSING. You are still controlling a little character, running around and jumping up and down various platforms and other structures, activating objects and collecting random glowing thingies, only this time with no apparent sense of excitement or urgency, since there are no traps, chasms, adversaries or time limits to engender them. And then there are the utterly pointless and superfluous, let us call them "puzzle" sections, in which you basically just gaze at some retarded cave-painting-style thingies for no apparent reason at all, which feature is again an astonishingly dumbed-down version of the puzzle sections found in many 3D action-adventure games, since you are not expected to do anything in these sections other than LOOK at them. So what these are, essentially, is CUTSCENES MASQUERADING AS PUZZLE SECTIONS, and the only reason they've been tacked on to the game is to distract the player, as much as possible, from the utter flatness and vapidity of the rest of the game. "HERE'S SOMETHING FOR YOU LITTLE ARTFAG SHUT-IN FUCKFACES TO 'INTERPRET'", Santiago and Chen must have chuckled as they slapped these absurdly pointless little sections into their latest little scam-piece, and given the glowing reviews the game has been receiving from the usual troupe of pseudo-critics, they appear to have done their job just fine.
As for allegations to the effect that Journey is innovative because, unlike other videogames, it is supposed to be a JOURNEY, I have news for you fuckfaces: ALL VIDEOGAMES ARE JOURNEYS, and it's no accident that they are, or at least strive to be, difficult and dangerous ones (or at least simulating difficulty and danger): if I wanted an easy and boring journey I'd take a trip to the local supermarket, instead of paying a fortune to eat in restaurants every day exactly because the supermarket trip is an easy and boring one. And I mean, why do you think the "indie" bums chose PRECISELY A DESERT to set their latest little pathetic "journey" in? Why not a journey through, say, 18th century Paris? Or a cyberpunk version of Tokyo? Because the desert, dear ignorant, naive reader, is the most plain and featureless, the most arid environment on the planet, so it was basically the easiest setting for the "indie" bums to pull off (just as the flower petal in Flower was easier to model than a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle) — which by the way is also why so few games are set in deserts; a desert is just not a very good setting for a game, requiring a much greater amount of imagination and inspiration to make it work than most any other environment you could think of. Which is why there are plenty of games with desert-themed stages, but very few entirely set in deserts, such as, to name the two examples that come to mind immediately, SSI's Dark Sun games. Now THOSE were some really cool desert journeys, my friends, and if you are in the mood for this sort of thing, I'd advise you to look them up and try them out. Or if you don't have an appetite for relatively involved (and rather buggy) CRPGs from the early '90s you could try something like Uncharted 3 [ > ] or whatever. Anything, anything at all is preferable to this venal, cynical attempt to pander to the (lack of) capacities and effeminate sensibilities of the modern casual demographic that doesn't even like games, and is merely kind of, sort of dabbling in them, quite simply, because everyone else is.