Journey: A Work of Art Wrapped in a Game

Spoiler warning: I discuss Journey’s gameplay and some story content here. If you have not yet played this game but intend to, stop reading.

The game began with me sitting on the sand. I was a red-cloaked figure with a dark face, glowing eyes and spindly legs, and no visible arms to speak of. I looked around, then stood up. Gazing up, I began to climb the sand dune in front of me. The sand shifted beneath what I suppose were my feet and I made my way slowly and carefully up the dune. Reaching the top, I saw the desert stretch before me, specks of sand catching the light of the sun above. I moved forward and slid down the other side of the sand dune. Or ‘surfed down’, rather. Oddly exhilarating. Thus began my trek towards the looming mountain with the glowing peak in the distance. I encountered a glowing glyph (the first of many) and as I approached it, it dissipated into my body and a scarf appeared on me. Suddenly I could fly in short bursts. The more glyphs I found, the longer the scarf grew, and the longer I could fly.

The journey took me across more desert, through aging ruins and underground caverns, and all the while I uncovered bits and pieces of the past and who I was. I saw visions, strange cloth creatures and surfed down sand chasms. During my journey I encountered other travellers like me, red-cloaked avatars of gamers who were experiencing the same wonderment. We could not communicate, save for little chirps and hums which our characters emitted. It was strange at first. We knew nothing of one another, not even our names. But a companion provided a subtle soothing respite from the solitude of the wide open spaces and dark cavernous areas. He saw things I did not, and often chirped excitedly to beckon me over when he found something of interest. At one point, my companion paused, sat down and then evaporated into thin air. I milled around a bit, bewildered, wondering where he had gone. When he did not return I felt a strange sadness, but decided there was nothing to do but press on.

I eventually came to the base of the mountain. The wind howled, causing snow flurries to billow around me. I sought refuge in a small cave where I could light a lantern and warm up from the cold, when suddenly another traveller entered. Except this one was cloaked in white and had a scarf longer than my own extensive one. I somehow felt he had seen and experienced more than me, and if I followed him, perhaps I could find out how he had turned white. We regarded one another quizzically for a moment, but with a few chirps, decided to press on together. When winds blew one of us backward, the other waited. We ascended the peaks and braved the blizzard together. We hid amongst the crevices from the dreaded flying serpents and wound our way through the tiny valleys.

Then near the peak, the cold became too much and we finally fell, first he, then I. My vision faded, then everything went white.

Then with a blast of light, I awoke and was sent soaring through a whirling maelstrom, emerging out the other side nearer the summit of the mountain. I wondered where my white-cloaked friend was, and whether he had been thrown into this paradise as well. I flew onwards, using billowing magic cloths to aid my climb. I encountered many cloth creatures who seemed to be ascending the mountain as well. When I finally reached the topmost cliff, I landed on an outcropping, and there stood my white-cloaked friend, who it seemed had just arrived as well and was waiting for me. We chirped at each other cordially, then turned and walked toward the vast light streaming from the mountaintop. As we walked, it enveloped us until there was nothing but bright white light.

We had reached our destination. Our journey was over. But from that ending burst forth a new beginning, a new rebirth. And with that rebirth, the journey began anew. Whether we would meet new companions, journey with them, or decide to set forth and forge our own path… All that was up to us.


One thought on “Journey: A Work of Art Wrapped in a Game

  1. Pingback: Why Video Games Matter | Y U NO HADOKEN?!

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