I am informed, perhaps unreliably so, that in the land before time, where cows went bong and teapots jibber jabber joo'd, that there was at least one constant which resonated with the world today. Gintendo's Chris "Masofdas" Pengily loved Journey, while Andrew "Andyman949" Rice hated it.
With that in mind I thought I would finally, in 2016, put to rest the age old Gnamer question: is Muss' Journey that of a Penger or Crumpster?
Journey commences with a delightful little cloth fellow meditating in an endless sea of sand as a shooting star passes overhead, pointing towards a great light atop a grand mountain top many units of measurement away. That's all the guidance offered initially, but hint enough that the great mountain is the destination.
Thus off I went, walking at first, overwhelmed by the desert expanse and trying to consume every detail. Occasional edifaces and numerous tombstones littered the desert as I pressed on, engendering questions such as what happened here? Why is clothy chap in a wasteland, What could possibly be here?
Proceeding at a gentile pace made it easy to soak everything in initally, but that pacing wasn't sustainable. It had to pick up, and in due course the protagonist gains curious cloth based powers. Interacting with deposits of cloth enables temporary flight, and this sudden boost assists in letting the player spectate the world, which becomes populated by further buildings and later still majestic cloth creatures and other wonders.
As one progresses, snippets of purpose are presented through short but purposeful cutscenes, and by optionally activating certain contraptions which trigger glyphs. They aren't much, but they are enough to keep maintain an investment in the wondrous world.
What is more interesting is that as the Journey progresses one is eventually joined by a companion. This companion can assist you by singing, which activates clothy's gliding ability, but the companion also requires clothy to sing back to them in order to maintain their flight. A symbiosis develops between the two of characters, with each patting the others back, chiming away a merry melody as they go. Long, booming chimes or short chirpy ones are at the player's disposal, dictated by how long the chirp button is held, and it was quite touching to spend sections walking with a companion chirping away in rhythem.
We climbed, flew, and fell together, unraveled the plot together, and encountered dangers together. As one of us was wounded, the other would rush to their aid, frantically humming in a desperate attempt to keep their comprade going. As far as cooperation goes, the simple mechanic of aiding each other through the limited buffs of a song is the most connected I have felt to another character for a long time. That we managed to complete the entire Journey together made me rather happy.
I've often considered playing a 'Walking Simulator,' but have always been put off by the feeling that you don't really do anything. Although Journey's gameplay elements are minimal for large portions of the game, there are some light puzzles and nerve-racking stealth sections which keep the player involved and an integral part of proceedings. It's enough to maintain a real sense of investment in the world, and makes it all the easier to marvel at the wonderfully styalised look of the game. The colour palate is brilliantly warm and bold, and graphical fidelity genuinely impressive given the vast swathe of dust and sand which is constantly knocked about by winds or footprints.
To talk in detail about what happens later in the game, about future environments and the like, would be a disservice to the game. This is one of those title's which need to be played with as little information as possible going in. I was fortunate, literally knowing nothing about the game save for it's 'walking simulator' routes. If anyone is of the same mindset and hasn't played it, then I would recommend giving it a go. It is a game which ought to trigger a strong reaction, either in appreciation for the narrative style and setting, or total disappointment about exactly the same criteria. It is short enough to not take up too much time, a definite one sitting and done sort of game, but it lives on beyond raw play time in being a title which begs to be talked about and offers imagery which can captivate the imagination. When I'm in a mellow sort of mood, without much to worry about, I'm sure I'll give it another playthrough.
Ultimately, in the debate between the Pengers and Crumpsters of the world, it would seem that I'm in camp Pengers.
Pass the whiskey.