I recently played through all three of Flow, Flower, and Journey by thatgamecompany. Thoroughly enjoyed all three, especially Journey.
Flow is a simple game, only about half an hour in length, where you chill out in the ocean and grow an organism under your control into a more complex form by the eating other lifeforms and progressing deeper into the ocean. You can’t die, but larger creatures can knock you backwards to an earlier layer, so some skill is required, but it’s mostly just a really relaxing game that you’ll have no trouble reaching the end of sooner or later.
Flower is a unique game. You control a gust of wind and create trails of petals to restore areas of the environment. As with Flow, the experience is relaxing and immersive, but unlike Flow it’s fully 3D and the consists of a diversity of different environments (six areas in total). I particularly liked some of the later levels where you arrive in urban environments, and without spoiling anything I’ll just say that the approach to completing the levels changes significantly. If you enjoyed Child of Eden, Flower is the kind of experience that you’ll probably enjoy. What I really like about Flower is that the goal of the game is restorative rather than destructive, yet the process of restoration feels just as compelling as any combat based action game.
If you don’t like motion controls, you may be put off by Flow and Flower as both games are controlled by tilting the PS3’s Sixaxis controller. But the games are short and the controls work well enough for the type of experiences that have been crafted. Still, when it came to making Journey, I’m glad thatgamecompany had the sense to make the game playable with standard gamepad controls.
And what a game it is. Journey is an exceptional interactive experience. In fact, Journey is so great, such an artistic masterpiece, that I would not only call it the greatest game of the seventh generation of consoles, but my second favourite game of all time (after Panzer Dragoon Saga). Every part of the game feels handcrafted with deliberate intent; the length, a mere three hours, is perfect because from start to finish because there is no filler. Because of this, the game is possible to complete in a single sitting. Like a great movie, the experience can be uninterpreted and singular, immersion into a complete journey from start to finish. Having no dialogue and a story open to interpretation in places doesn’t harm Journey, rather it’s a game that embraces the fundamentals of the interactive medium; it doesn’t try to work around the interactivity to tell a story but uses the game’s flow and mechanics to communicate to the player.
I’m a bit surprised that no one has made a topic about Journey already. The game came out in 2012. But I suppose that’s because it’s a game which is better experienced firsthand rather than discussed. I will say this though: the game has a lot of similarities to Panzer Dragoon. The setting is mostly desert, in a post-apocalyptic world filled with ancient ruins, with gameplay consisting of gliding through levels, with an epic soundtrack that closely matches the events on screen, etc. I could go on.
So, who here has actually played Journey (or Flow or Flower)? If not, you should definitely get on to that.