- Publisher: Sony
- Developer: ThatGameCompany
- ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
- Genre: Puzzle Adventure
- Pros: Pioneering Gameplay, Fascinating Special Features, Incredible Value
- Cons: Awkward Presentation, Forgettable Mini-Games
The heart of "Journey: Collector's Edition" is in the three games that have made ThatGameCompany such a critically acclaimed development group. But it's just the start in terms of what makes this "Collector's." The three games are not only accompanied by three mini-games from TGC but also by downloadable versions of their soundtracks, exclusive avatars, concept art galleries, documentaries about their creation, and even commentary tracks. Yes, a commentary on a video game. It's something remarkable to hear a developer talk about the process behind making "Flower" while watching someone else play the game. It may sound like a special feature for diehard gaming nuts only but I think you'd be surprised at how even the casual viewer could find it interesting.
For all three games, the gameplay is deceptively simple. ThatGameCompany specializes in breaking down the basic tenet of all games -- travel from point A to point B -- to its purest form. Whether you're slowly moving your Sixaxis controller to propel a worm-like creature in "flOw," controlling a petal on the wind in "Flower," or pushing forward to a distant mountain in "Journey," all three games are primarily about movement. And the developers use that forward motion to play with perspective in "flOW," expectation in "Flower," and emotion in "Journey." Each game is remarkable and each game is better than the one that came before it. Thinking about what they might do next should give hope to anyone concerned about the state of gaming in general.
The most unusual thing about "Journey: Collector's Edition" is the way it's organized. For the most part, the disc is purely a device to download the games and bonus material from the PlayStation Network. Which wouldn't be that bizarre if not for the fact that you have to put in the disc whenever you want to play a title that you hadn't otherwise already purchased. Playing a very-brief mini-game like "Gravediggers" shouldn't require a disc insert.
As for those mini-games, their history is more entertaining than their execution. The three games are the product of "24-Hour Game Jams." The team at ThatGameCompany plans the game for weeks ahead of time on paper but the actual execution of that plan goes down in 24 hours. What kind of game can be made in 24 hours? All three games are pleasant diversions but a more than a bit rough around the edges. Still, I love how ThatGameCompany is trying to think about new ways to make games and what comes from different restrictions. They're like filmmakers placing rules on style to come up with something new or writers following a unique style guide. It's refreshing to see such ingenuity.
That's the word for "Journey: Collector's Edition" -- ingenuity. I'll never forget the first times I played "Flower" or "Journey," two of the most important games of the last ten years. They require you think about gaming in a new way and use a different set of tools from what you're used to bringing to a controller and a TV set.