Journey, From the Creators of Flow and Flower, Explained

The same company that made flOw and Flower is now making a new game called Journey. It is about singing, sand, hiking, cloth, surfing, astronauts, and feeling small. And it uses two whole buttons, which is a big change for the team.

Jenova Chen, a game designer at thatgamecompany, said that Journey is a multiplayer online adventure game for the PlayStation 3 that tries to explore emotions in a way that other games don’t. He says that the feeling of power a player has, both in real life and in video games, gave him ideas. Technology makes it possible for people to know a lot and talk to each other all the time in the real world. Players feel like gods when they use power in video games, like when they fire a rocket launcher or play as a character that can’t get hurt,

The writings of Joseph Campbell and lunch with astronaut Charles F. Bolden, Jr. also influenced it. Chen says that Bolden told the game designer stories about how some of his “hardcore atheist” Space Shuttle colleagues became religious after spending time on the moon and seeing Earth from a far distance.

Chen called it “awe towards the unknown.”

The journey is full of things we don’t know. Chen wouldn’t tell us much about the game’s story or purpose, but he did explain how it worked. In Journey, you explore a world where sand is everywhere and flows. As the thin, red-robed character, the player can walk, run, and jump around the world. They can “surf” down dunes, ride sand waves, and even take pictures with their feet in the sand. Chen says that people have already made penises in the sand at Journey.

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Chen says that Journey is both a virtual hike and a story-based adventure. It is a story told without words, using signs, codes, and glyphs. You can find these symbols on stone pillars and banners all over the world, and some of them will be brought by other groups.

Journey Game
Journey Game

The other big way to play the PlayStation 3 game is with a cloth. The player’s robes and the banners, flags, and floating strips of fabric that are all over the world move naturally in the wind. Some are puzzles, some are clues.

In one scene, Chen jumped up on three long ribbons that were flapping in the wind. They were used as platforms, and when the player stepped on them, they changed from white cloth to red cloth with glyphs on it. After crossing all three, a stream of fabric came out of a piece of rock, making a bridge.

In another part of the game, Chen led the player behind a series of sand waterfalls, where they found a huge banner with glyphs all over it. It’s not clear how all of these items will help the player.

Near the end of the demo, we met one of Journey’s helpers in a place that wasn’t as sandy and had a blue sky. It was a white statue that sent out big, floating light glyphs. Then, those glyphs gave the player’s robe a whole new look. Chen didn’t say exactly what this meant, but he said it could have something to do with getting older, your score, a status symbol, or a new skill.

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One skill we haven’t talked about yet is singing. Chen says that it will help the player collect nearby strips of fabric and “harmonize with other cloth players in the world.”

The journey is on a path that leads to a mountain. It’s a brightly lit goal far away that you’ll get to by looking at surfaces and figuring them out. Chen says that to get to the mountain, you’ll ride sand and fly and that the game’s enemies will be “natural obstacles.”

Along the way, you’ll run into other hikers in the world of Journey and work together to solve puzzles. You won’t be able to talk to them. Chen says that players can choose to play the game in either a competitive or cooperative way. The journey has a goal, it keeps going, and the hidden secrets of the world make it fun to play more than once.

Chen said that Journey was many things, like a “very good gallery or museum” and a way to make a “real connection” with other players.

Journey sounds like it’s still figuring out what it wants to be, and in some ways, the game won’t be out until (hopefully) next year.

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