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Jimpressions: Journey beta and its unique co-op offering

Jun 29 // Jim Sterling    @JimSterling

The beta for thatgamecompany's Journey is available to lucky PlayStation 3 owners this week, and I am pleased to say I'm one of them. Having taken the game for a spin and engaging in its unique multiplayer, I am still finding it impossible to judge how much I'll like the final game ... but it's definitely memorable. 

Part of that is due to the unique and thoroughly engrossing multiplayer.

 

As you'll gather from our full preview, Journey is all about exploring a strange and mystical world. As a cloaked traveler, you wander the desert, gaining temporary jumping powers with a magic scarf, and letting strange one-note songs ring out to activate presumably ancient structures. "Gameplay" as we typically understand it has been tossed aside to focus on absorbing the player in an engaging world. 

The multiplayer is what really stands out, though. Journey's world is accessible to random players who you will simply find while playing. Whether your choose to join them or not is up to you, but they will be working toward the same goals as you, and working together might help you spot hidden goodies. 

I stumbled across another player in the beta's second area -- identical to me, with no visible username or real method of communication. Using our ability to let out one-note chirps, however, we were able to gain an understanding of each other.

We chirped so we wouldn't lose each other. We touched in order to keep each other's jump ability powered up. We ran across the desert together while chasing flying carpets. The world of Journey is stark, dead and lonely despite its eerie beauty, and that made me want to stick with my new companion all the more. Sliding down a dune with a new friend next to me, chasing carpets. It was magical, to say the least.

Co-op games often cause me to lose interest in a game. It's hard to follow a story when you've got someone chatting in your ears, and it's hard to enjoy a game while worrying about looking "bad" in front of another player. Journey, by stripping players of communication and identity, by placing them in a world where they simply explore together, has sidestepped all the usual issues of co-op gaming. 

Demon's Souls come to mind when I think about this. That game also used limited communication and an unconventional, perpetual set up in order to create a sense of simultaneous loneliness and camaraderie. It's a beautiful thing, and an experience that only videogames can give us.  

I have no idea who I played with. I don't know their PSN username or what they thought about the game. 

I had fun though. Whoever you are!


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Jim Sterling // Former Reviews Editor
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Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... full profile | More staff profiles

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destructoid's previous coverage:
Journey


  Jul 25

Sony spills gamescom lineup, Journey for PS4, then deletes listing

Oops we didn't announce it at the right time, let's act like nobody noticed


  Feb 24

Journey was composed on a $50 crappy Casio keyboard

You'd think Austin Wintory would have better tools


  Nov 03

Journey, Unfinished Swan might be coming to PS4 (Update)

Sony Santa Monica creative director teases potential releases


  Jul 01

New thatgamecompany title will relate to a wider audience

'It's a natural evolution of everything we are doing'


  Jun 14

Katamari creator goes indie, joins former Journey devs

Keita Takahashi working on game with San Francisco-based indie devs


  May 28

Apparently people don't like Journey cosplay

Mega64's latest gets them in trouble with the heat


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