mercredi 6 juin 2012

Thoughts on a Journey

 A quick glance around Internet or, if you’re kicking it old school like I am sometimes and head out to the store to grab a gaming magazine, you will have noticed that game reviews, by « journalists » or by « normal » gamers, are wildly different from one another. Sure, this last sentence could be a statement made by good old Captain Obvious, but let me explain myself.

Not every gamer is looking for the same thing when he/she plays a game. Of course, most of us are just looking to have fun and/or kill some time. After all, video games are an entertainment medium like TV shows or movies at the theater. However, when you play enough games, you start to look beyond the whole « entertainment » value of a game, which never entirely disappears, but seems to take a back seat to something else.

That’s when you might start looking for a game that will test some skills in a very specific way, like Real-Time Strategy if you’re the armchair general type, online shooters if you’re the competitive soldier with an all-world K/D ratio, deep Role-Playing games if you’re a  mad completionist, Puzzle games if you want to work your brains out, Racing games if you think you’re the second coming of Ayrton Senna, Fighting games for the combo-loving, leaderboard-topping digital master etc.

Or you might be looking for a specific trait in a game. An intense atmosphere like in Bioshock or most Resident Evil games ? Non-stop action à la Call of Duty ? Emotional attachment as in Ico or Enslaved ? Infinite replayability as in LittleBigPlanet ? Nostalgia in Sonic Generations ? The feeling of freedom of GTA IV ? Hollywood script and action like in Uncharted 2 ? Exquisite graphics like in The Witcher II : Assassins of Kings ? The list goes on.

When I bought, then played, PSN-exclusive Journey, one word came to mind. Experience. Journey is unique, like nothing I’ve ever played before or will ever play again. I don’t think we’ll see a Journey-clone like we see gazillions or GTA-clones and CoD-clones. You play through the whole game, likely in a single sitting since it’s pretty short, without hearing or reading a single word. The objective, seen through a gamer’s eye, is to reach the summit of a omnipresent mountain, although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact motivation to do so. You encounter allies and enemies, but not in the usual « video game » sense. And the artistic design is unreal, the places you get to visit - be it desert, cave, snowy moutain - are all a sight to behold. You get the feeling you’re living a unique experience, and that’s what makes the game superb, borderline legendary.

It’s a game I can’t rate properly because most of the usual criterias I use to rate a game (gameplay, storyline, presentation, etc.) don’t really matter. It can’t be compared with « mainstream » games that I usually play and rate, like Portal 2, Skyrim, DiRT 3, Battlefield 3, etc. It certainly wouldn’t get lower than a 9, and probably much higher if I looked at which games got a 9 this generation.

Anyway, it is a great game that you just have to experience, not play.

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