Jonesing for Journey

A few years ago, I bought a PS4 (to play Rock Band 4, a disappointment), and picked up a few other titles, including a couple of walking sims: Dear Esther & Journey.

Dear Esther is gorgeous and emotionally moving. It’s definitely worth playing through a couple of times.

Journey is Zen-like. The graphical design is truly lovely; the musical score is nothing short of remarkable. Playing the game on the PS4 was a wonderful experience, but I didn’t perceive any depth of play that would make it worth playing again.

Until the family got me a Steam Deck, and I tried out the PC version. Not only are there nuances and hidden secrets I had missed, but being connected to Steam online (something I’d used only for backups), I stumbled across another lone traveler making the same journey, and the experience bloomed into something deeper.

Journey is about struggle to reach a mountaintop, and the experience of sometimes coming across a companion to accompany in the struggle is heartwarming. That you’ve no idea who that person is in real life, where they’re located on the globe, what language they speak, makes it even more so. Communication is a simple chirrup, with no more meaning than “Hey!” It’s amazing just how much you can say with one simple sound.

As to my jonesing, at present I’ve achieved 13 of the 14 trophies. The 14th is “Don’t play the game for a week.” With every passing day, I find that more difficult to avoid. In part, it’s that in Journey I can fly much like in my real-world dreams. But mainly it’s how much I miss meeting newcomers, sojourning with them, and guiding them to hidden empowerments.

I miss the simple, nonjudgmental commonality of that online space, in a shared struggle with a stranger to reach a mountaintop. As one online commenter wrote, “To whomever it was who joined me in Journey last night making heart shapes in the sand, I love you!”

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.