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Posted by Marianne Miller on Dec 14, 2012

Was Journey Trying To Tell Us Anything?

After many months of putting it off, I finally decided to pop Journey into my PlayStation 3 at 1 in the morning and give it a shot.  My husband, who had been waiting for me to play it, eagerly came to watch me, curled on our armchair with my stuffed Dragonite.

After a series of strong moments tied together with a breathtaking, theatrical soundtrack, I found myself finishing the game.  Much like LIMBO, it has a cyclical ending, and as I watched my character loop through the credits and back to two buried stones in the sand (which I can only assume were tombstones), my husband and I had a discussion about what we had each experienced in our own respective playthroughs.

I had spent most of my time alone, figuring out most of the simplistic puzzles and challenges on my own.  Briefly, a scarf-clad friend huddled up against me, allowing the bright colors to melt through the ice as we warmed each other and traversed up to the snow-covered summit, fighting strong winds along the way, but he eventually disappeared, and I was on my own again.

My husband, however, had a companion the entirety of the way, and they chirped and sang at each other quietly throughout the game as they faced the elements together and reached the summit as a team.  He mentioned how entirely surreal it was to watch me experience some of the more cinematic moments of the game alone.

It struck me as odd.  A game that is so very beautiful, but still very scripted, had an entirely different look and feel to it when completed with a “friend”, who you literally never speak to throughout the course of the game.  And yet, despite the fact that you never have any sort of “intelligent” interaction with your potential partners, you as a player can still relate on a very deep, basic level with any person that you bump into and play with.

In the current social climate of the world, with humans obsessing over drowning everyone out in the sound of their own voices through social media and gaming websites (THE IRONY), it was genuinely strange to play a game that silenced you and everyone else.  It allowed for me to focus on everything else that was around me – the glimmering sand, the breathtaking sunset behind the summit of the mountain, the strangely underwater feel of the ribbons at times and the stark contrasts in colors of the different areas I continued on.

I didn’t find myself bothered by the total lack of narrative.  Rather, I was more transfixed by the little things in the game.  It allowed for me to stop and smell the roses rather than bog myself down with things that didn’t really concern me.  And at this time in my life, that was a message I kind of needed to receive.

Journey didn’t want us to be challenged.  Journey didn’t want us to be hurt, didn’t want us to die, and didn’t want us to talk.  It wanted us to take a moment and look around.  To appreciate what we may be missing by focusing on small-minded concerns or obsessing over needless details.  And to accept that sometimes things can be done over and over and over, just for the sake of it, and there’s no shame or guilt to be had from that, as long as you enjoy yourself along the way.

And if you happen to find someone to share that with, someone willing to stick by you and help you when you’re at your weakest, that just makes the journey all the sweeter.

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