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Journey: Collector's Edition PS3 Review

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Journey

Journey

Image © Sony
The men and women who make up the game development group known as ThatGameCompany are some of the most forward-thinking and important pioneers in their field as any working today. The roar of praise started with "flOw," became much louder with "Flower" (which About.com named one of the essential downloadable games ever released), and turned downright deafening with this year's release of "Journey," arguably the Game of the Year so far and it's September. That amazing downloadable experience has now been packaged on a disc with both "flOw" and "Flower" and the collection has been filled out with a ton of bonus material, including 3 exclusive mini-games. If you've never played "Flower" or "Journey," then you're simply missing out on two of the most important games in the history of the PS3 and this is the best way to own them. Even if you've played them before, you owe it to yourself to pick up this special edition.

Game Details

  • 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.

Gameplay

Journey: Collector's Edition Gravediggers

Journey: Collector's Edition Gravediggers

Image © Sony

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.

Graphics & Sound

With their lack of bells and whistles, "flOw," "Flower," and "Journey" are reliant on their visual design and gorgeous scores. The composition for "Journey" is one of my favorites of the year in film or gaming. And while the visuals here are simple, they are often intentionally so. "Flower" and "Journey" are absolutely beautiful, mesmerizing in their video and audio.

Overall

Flower

Flower

Image © Sony
I can't say enough about "Journey," a game that will surely be on my top ten at the end of the year as "Flower" was a few years ago. Just for those two games alone, "Journey: Collector's Edition" is worth picking up. Add the interesting mini-games and wealth of behind-the-scenes material and this is a must own for Sony PS3 players. It's either the future of gaming or something so unique that it will never be recreated. Either way, you can't miss it.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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