My eyes open for the first time and I immediately think to shade them from the blinding sun that's beating down on the land around me. I can see sand in every direction I tilt. Ahead of me, in the distance, three stone pillars protrude out of the ground; artifacts from a lost civilization begging to reveal their secrets to me. With nothing else around, these pillars act as a beacon.
As I take my first steps, I can almost feel the crunch of the coarse sand beneath my feet. I realize I lack arms, so protecting myself from the blistering sun is out of the question; only my robe and ever growing magical scarf can protect me now. When I approach the pillars, my perspective shifts and my true purpose reveals itself. Off in the distance is the summit; my goal, my greatest achievement, my trophy, but ultimately the end of my journey.
To say anything else about what to expect in Journey would be a disservice to gamers everywhere because Journey is a game that's hard to define; and may mean something different to everyone who plays it. There are no true objectives to accomplish, no real levels to complete and certainly no bosses to beat. As anyone that's finished the game can tell you, Journey isn't beaten Ė it's experienced. Mechanically, it's a testament to innovation out of minimalism. I'm given the ability to chirp and jump, the two abilities go hand and hand as my chirp can at times charge my jump. Sometimes chirping allows me to fly majestically through the air; at other times, chirping is used to communicate with other "players" in the area.
In Journey, other players come and go as they please; sometimes interrupting me as I am trying to pull off a particularly tricky platforming sequence, causing me to chirp at them in displeasure. At other times I chirped for attention as I found myself enthralled by a beautiful sight I just needed to share. Having that partner from time to time also added gravity to my adventure. There were moments of genuine tension as my partner and I struggled to survive in a way I've never experience in gaming before. There were also times I felt entirely betrayed as my partner sat down before me and hauntingly faded away into oblivion. With no verbal way to express ourselves besides chirping, we had to pay extra attention to each other's body language, forcing us to become closer, both physically and emotionally. An emotional connection sparked by the lack of communication tools available to us.
The beauty of Journey is in what it doesn't tell me. Because so much was left to my imagination, I was left to infer further about my surroundings and motivation. It thus became an adventure that's unusually subjective for the medium and hits incredibly close to home because of it. But what truly makes Journey a special game is the human aspect. Whether it's the trek through the sands that acts as an analogy of one's journey through life or the interaction with perfect strangers to reach a common goal, Journey, like life, is what you make of it.
In an age of technological achievements, where developers are trying to out Michael Bay each other, thatgamecompany has created a silent film. A piece of fiction so engrossing; uttering anything but a chirp would be negligent. It's a work of art so brilliant it questions the very fabric of our industry Ė what defines a video game? With my first steps in Journey, I believe I now have the answer.
After years of hype, and delays and I'm sure a death threat or two, Phil Fish's magnum opus, Fez is finally upon us. Having never seen the game in motion, I really didnít know what to make of Fez before I started it.
If you follow the video game industry, you've heard Fez described many times before. Fez (conceptually and literally) takes a previously two dimensional Gomez into the 3rd dimension to collect Hexahedron pieces, or else the universe and everything in it will collapse into itself. And of course, no one wants that, especially Gomez. Your part in this is to use the right and left triggers (bumpers work also) to shift perspectives so Gomez can reach previously unattainable cube pieces that are spread across the land. I could sit here and tell you that the less said of Fez the better, but who am I kidding? I barely have a grasp on what I'm experiencing as I'm playing it. What I can say, some two hours into it, is that Fez is the type of game you never tell non-gamers about. It's the type of game that revels in video game obscurity to the point of celebration. Itís admiration for the medium is evident in every pixel on display. It's just not the type of game you speak of in the presence of people you potentially might have sex with one day.
What makes Fez so interesting is its unassuming nature. The game hides layers of complicated riddles and gameplay mechanics under a heavy gloss of charm. With cute characters, colorful worlds, and a beautiful soundtrack; Fez wants you to smile, but all that acts as a facade to hide that this game was made by a serious gamer. And to truly beat Fez, youíll need to take Fez serious. So Iím going in with itchy trigger fingers, and Iím not leaving until every last Hexahedron is collected.
Iíll make sure to update the blog as I delve further into the very beautiful mad world that is Fez.
I wake up at 7:00 AM every day and brush my teeth like everyone else. I put my pants on one leg at a time just like you; but this next part is where we differ. I work on the top floor of a very tall building; a sky scraper if you will. I run a company Ėno, sorryĖ a corporation that specializes in getting results. What results, you ask? Whatever I want them to be; but it usually revolves around taking over the world. Some may call it an empire, but I donít like to brag. They also call me evil, but theyíre just being dramatic. So what am I? Well, for starters Iím bored.
See, plotting to take over the world is not that difficult. I could create a virus that turns everyone into zombies Ė just like that. Youíd be surprised how much your government is willing to pay for that sort of thing. Something about ultimate weapons and such; those details, I donít get into them. I could also unleash an evil monster that threatens the existence of every living person on this planet. Thatís the side that gets all the press, but in my opinion the day to day is far more interesting; and thatís what this is about Ė my way of getting through the work day. Waiting at the top floor for some tights-wearing, blue haired freak whoís trying to save the day can get quite boring at times.
For starters, good help is key. So I take out an ad in the local paper and conduct meet and greets (I learned long ago the word ďinterviewĒ scares off the type of people Iím looking for). Itís important that these underlings are no smarter than a high school dropout; I canít have them asking morally gray questions, now can I? I also prefer to get them in packs so twins, triplets, and quadruplets are ideal. Matching outfits is a must (they are a team, after all) and of course a chip on their shoulder is practically required. Thatís why I only hire thugs with names like Nails and Slag. These particular individuals are so angry at the world. Theyíre willing to punch anything and anyone that stands in front of them.
Enough about them though, because Iím the one that does most of the work. Iím the one that sends the threatening letters to would-be heroes. I kidnap girlfriends and princesses, and generally provoke everyone I can; all by myself. Who do you think prepares all those whole turkeys dinners? My men have to eat. When my henchmen are gathered, hidden in a dark alleyway (in strict single file formation, of course), waiting...and waiting...and waiting for anyone with a head to punch, they get very hungry. So I hide turkeys and burgers in trashcans, mailboxes, basically anything that can be punched into oblivion at a momentís notice. I canít make it too hard for my guys though; you know, high school dropouts and all that.
So you see, the food is for them Ė not Johnny Square Jaw. Yet, they never manage to find it themselves. Sir Saves-a-Lot usually comes and takes all the food for himself. This, as Iím sure you can understand, gets quite old; you can see why I try to handle things myself when I can. How do you think I got this body? Iíve had to work at it! Iíve trained myself to be the ultimate killing machine. Iíve practiced and perfected a strategy that tires my opponents while I stand there with practically double their health. I have this amazing front kick that can destroy anything in itís path. After about three vicious front kicks and a short spray of bullets from my rifle, I usually call in some guards to tire this Joe-do gooder out a bit while I rest and regain my strength. Once Iím at full health again (or close to it) I go back to my devastating, unstoppable attack of kicks and bullets; a few rounds of that always does the trick. I know what youíre thinking, what happens if I fail? What happens if some no name schmuck with an unreasonable amount of lives and hair trigger special attack were to take me down? Sorry to disappoint you, but I donít worry about those things. See, Iím a 16-bit boss, and thereís always a sequel.