Journey is a title I often come back to frequently, but I’ll never forget my first experience with it. I had heard about it in passing online but had never really considered giving it a go until I saw it was free on PlayStation Plus one month. Filled with little to no background knowledge on the title I went into it completely blind and I’m so happy I did.
At the age of 12, I packed my bags as I prepared to move home for the first time in my life. I wasn’t moving country or anything but I was moving to Dublin on the other side of Ireland. At the time I remember the excitement I felt starting this new journey, all the new things I’d see, all the new people I’d meet. I did all of those things and I made new friends. For the first year of my life living in Dublin, my family and I stayed in a small two-bedroom apartment. It was perfectly fine and was a nice enough spot but it was always meant as temporary accommodation whilst my parents searched for a new home. Once they did, we moved again, this time to the other side of Dublin. Later on down the line, I moved schools at the age of 16 and again moved to a different learning environment when I went to college and now I’ve made another move to Northern Ireland to pursue further education. The reason for this over-elaborate and detailed speel about my time growing up is to point out the number of times I’ve moved. With each move came the experience of meeting new people, making new friends and settling into new environments. Of course, when you move homes you still keep in contact with the friends you’ve already made, at least as much as you can, and you still appreciate the times you spent with them.
There are a few reasons as to why I so fondly look back on and still replay Journey to this day. Yes, it’s visually stunning and has an incredible score by Austin Wintory but overall it’s the personal effect it’s had on me and the way I perceived the story that draws me to it. Journey has the interesting and unique mechanic of having random players from all over the world join your game at any given time to accompany you on your quest. Throughout your time with the other player either you or your partner can drop out of the session at any given time and at some point or another, you’ll encounter someone completely different. This mechanic was something I didn’t really pay too much attention to initially but as the game progressed I found myself comforted by the companionship these other players offered. Upon completion of the game, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the myriad of players that had come and gone during my playthrough and the number of friends that had come and gone as I’d moved several times during my life. There was a rather warm feeling I got when thinking about how whilst the person who started Journey with me didn’t necessarily end it with me I still got to experience and enjoy some form of the quest with them.
Spoilers for Journey Ahead
I’ve seen a lot of people analyse Journey through a metaphor of death. Whilst you may experience each playthrough in a unique way with other players you all inevitably experience the same ending. There are certainly much smarter people than I who can do that analysis justice but for me, I looked at the ending with a level of hope and appreciation as whilst my character dies at the end I noted that any challenge posed to them throughout their journey was overcome with a friend and I like to think that this knowledge would offer comfort to either myself or my character when the time eventually comes.
I’ll probably look at this piece in a few weeks or even days and think I didn’t do my love for Journey justice but in all honesty, I find it extremely hard to talk about the personal experience and love I have for this game. It’s inspiring, hopeful, and still a breath of fresh air all these years later.
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