Celebrating this generation’s most important work of art.
Released to the masses on March 13, 2012, thatgamecompany‘s Journey re-ignited the “games as art” argument. It’s beautiful and ethereal depiction of companionship, mystery, communication, evolution, and post-apocolypse paved the way to its chart topping success, numerous awards, and a Grammy nomination; a first for the video game medium.
One year later, Journey continues to top Playstation’s charts, peaking during awards shows and best of lists. Amongst heavy-hitters and AAA titles, Journey’s legacy continues.
There is also the outstanding success and importance of Journey’s soundtrack. Composed by Austin Wintory, the soundtrack sprawls from eerie tension to a warm enlightenment, as demonstrated by tracks “Nadir” to “Apotheosis”. Wintory’s score went on to win numerous awards, dominating the Best Music/Audio category of nearly every video game award ceremony and became the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy. One may argue that the standalone success, sweeping hooks, and inspiring melodies of the score continue to draw players to Journey and open conversations to new audiences.
With all of it’s gravitas and praise, Journey is not without its nay-sayers. Many refute the piece as a “best of” contender due to its lack of traditional gameplay. Even I, an avid fan of the experience, struggle with the “games as art” argument and have the idea that we need to reevaluate our definition of “game.” There is no doubt in my mind that Journey is a profound piece of art, but does it qualify as a game?
“Journey’s primary mechanic was to move the player from point A to point B and tell a story and show off scenery. The puzzles are simple. The threats are sparse. Consequences are inconsequential.” – Kyle Starr, IGN.com
Regardless of one’s feelings on whether Journey can be classified as a game, the experience is one that challenges our opinions of the world and each other. Clocking in at roughly 2 hours of intimate gameplay, Journey is best left as a solo experience to be completed in a single sitting, similar to a movie. The themes previously mentioned are deep and subtle, something we’ve come to expect from novels. And the score not only moves the story but, like the world’s most important classical pieces, can be enjoyed apart from the visual experience.
One year (and one month) ago, Journey redefined art and interactive entertainment. It challenged storytelling, world building, and character evolution. It goes without saying that Journey is one of few crowning achievements of our modern society that should be experienced by all, gamer or otherwise.
Journey’s PSN rank since launch. The following sales data as reported by the official Playstation Blog:
Top 20 PSN/Retail Games:
- February: 1
- January: 4
- November: 18
- October: n/a
- September: 15
- August: 8
- July: 6
- June: 3
- May: 2
- April: 2
- “A true gem; Journey surpassed expectations with many gamers. Be sure to pick up the soundtrack when it drops on April 10th.” – Morgan Haro, Sony Community Manager, Playstation Blog