Thatgamecompany’s latest title is an unadulterated work of art.
Graphics & Atmosphere Overview
Technology and art design come together to give Journey an extremely compelling visual appeal, while music and sound complete the atmosphere and lend the game much of its emotion.
An exemplary application of cell shading, Journey's visual aren't quite cartoony but certainly aren't realistic either. The result is a notably versatile style that's capable of cute, whimsical moments, as well as dark, suspenseful moments. The clean, minimalist technique creates an evocative environment without distractions from the gameplay or the meaning and mystery of the plot.
Although screenshots can't do the game justice, Journey is a technical powerhouse. Sand physics are amazingly realistic, among the best in gaming so far, and draw distance extends incredibly far, creating an impressive and necessary sense of scale. A number of gorgeous effects are used to achieve the goals of the narrative, though we won't spoil them here. The only trouble spots are textures, which are sharp but bland and repetitive.
Journey's fully orchestrated soundtrack is one of the best in modern gaming. In the absence of spoken dialog, music actually plays a large part in conveying this story to the player. Cellos mix with just a hint of electronic for a timeless soundtrack perfectly suited to the game.
But by far the best part of the score is the way it dynamically reacts to your actions onscreen. Music adapts quickly and dramatically to what you're doing. On-foot exploring will be met with equally slow-paced background notes, but start sliding down a hill and the music swells to exciting and upbeat composition. This gives the player a strange sensation of no longer controlling a character in a videogame, but acting as the main character in a choreographed performance. Journey's music will be found on Top 10 lists for years to come.
Sound effects are masterfully infrequent, and used only to highlight important aspects of gameplay. No matter the application, most effects are actually musical notes, so they'll enhance the soundtrack rather than clashing with it. Again, stunning.
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