I have been meaning to play thatgamecompany’s Journey for a very long time. The beautiful environments and soundtrack, along with simple, yet creative gameplay was something that I simply couldn’t pass up. This isn’t the kind of game that I normally play. As creative and beautiful as it is, it is still, at its core, a 3D platformer and I’m really not that great at those. Still, I was told that this game was fairly forgiving and since there is no time limit and no “game over,” I could take my time and there would be no penalty. I went into the game understanding that it had a multiplayer element, but I was unsure if I would actually run into anyone since the game has been out for quite some time now.
Since the first level functioned somewhat like a tutorial level, I learned quickly that the controls were very simple: move (L-analog), rotate camera (R-analog or tilt controller), jump/fly (X), and…something (O). The first time you need to do any of these actions, the game tells you to do them, so, with the exception of the circle button, things were pretty straightforward. I learned that floating ribbons would recharge my ribbon and my ribbon needed to be charged in order to fly. During this level, I only had to press the circle button once, so I was unclear about whether or not it was simply a way to interact with the environment or if it had some other function. Either way, after pressing the circle button when it told me to, I unlocked the way to the end of the level. Hopefully, I would be able to get a better grasp on the circle button in the next level.
In the next level, I immediately encountered another player. This guy had clearly played the game before because by the time I had explored only a fraction of the area, he had unlocked the exit to the end of the level. I spent some time finding what looked like runes to make my ribbon longer. I don’t know WHY I wanted my ribbon to be longer, but I was pretty sure that I needed to do that. I also spent a good amount of time sand surfing because it was just REALLY FUN. I followed the other player to the exit, but I still had no idea what the circle button did or what I was even supposed to be doing in the game.
That stressed me out. When we emerged in the next level, he started moving around me, jumping and making my ribbon glow. I had no idea what he was doing or what he was trying to tell me. With no way for me to communicate and my stress level rapidly increasing because I felt that I couldn’t meet another player’s expectations, I quit the game.
I described my experience to my friend who has played Journey several times and he explained to me that the circle button is used to sing and that singing is how you interact with objects in the environment. Singing will also recharge another player’s ribbon. Since I went through the entire second level without ever having to sing, I never had the opportunity to figure that out. I’m pretty sure I would have figured it out eventually, though. My friend also warned me about other players in white. Apparently, they have god powers and this can make the experience less than enjoyable.
I have every intention of continuing, of course, and I’m really looking forward to doing so. The guy I encountered in my game probably thought I already knew how to play and given that this game was released in March 2012, that is not unreasonable. I will post again when I finish the game, which will hopefully be later this week.