thatgamecompany is one of the most innovative video game developers around. With three PSN titles – FlOw, Flower, and Journey – and three major successes, how could they not be considered incredible? It isn’t that their games are just good: they’re creative, unique, and set a new standard for true beauty in a video game. With the release of Journey Collector’s Edition, you can now get all three masterpieces on one disc.
FlOw was the first major release on PSN from thatgamecompany. The gameplay is incredibly simple. You control a microorganism in an ocean-like world and you eat smaller organisms to grow bigger. The bigger you get, the larger the organisms you can eat. That’s the entire premise, and, as simple as it is, it’s extremely addictive. The presentation is spectacular, even though the setup is simplistic. There are no bosses, no time-limit, and no lives; it’s just a fun game to play.
Flower came next, and is arguably one of the most beautiful video games ever created. In a dark industrial world, the beauty of nature fights back. The visuals alone are remarkable, with the flow of the grass and the colors of the flowers being extremely well done. There is an overall majestic feel that really makes you happy, and the game’s extreme tranquility will allow you to experience true serenity in your life. The music is beautiful and really helps engross you in the magic of the game. It’s incorporated into the gameplay, so every time you do something, there is a musical melody to match. What’s the gameplay? You control a flower petal that floats in the wind, collecting other flower petals as you go. You cannot fail a level, which allows you to sit back and truly enjoy the wonderful experience that is Flower. Controlling the flower petal with the pitch-sensitive Sixaxis controller offers an immersive feel that brings incredible enjoyment as you play the game. Describing it simply doesn’t do it justice; this game is just beautiful.
Journey is the latest game from the innovated developers. You play as a robed figure that you know nothing about, and the game starts with you climbing a sand dune in a desert to see a mountain far in the distance. Reaching this mountain is the goal of the game. However, as the title states, it isn’t about the destination but the journey. As you travel, a story is told through pictures and music – there are no words to describe what’s going on. It’s completely interpretive, and each player may take away something different from the game.
The gameplay is hard to describe. It has some puzzle and platforming elements, but it’s so much more than that. Like the two previous games, you cannot fail, there are no bosses, and no time-limit. The only controls are walking, jumping, and singing, and these simplistic controls only add to the overall experience. When you meet up with another real person playing the game via the online component, you can only communicate through musical notes, and yet, that’s all you really need. Using the musical pings, you can help each other complete tasks and lead each other to secret goodies. Somehow you will feel a very deep, brotherly bond when your fellow unknown journeyer sticks with you until the end, and you will feel sad to finally leave that person. All this happens without a single word of communication.
The visuals are amazing, and the environments are absolutely stunning to look at. From the golden shimmer of sunbathed sand flowing like a river to the deep snow of a cold, dark, despairing winter wasteland; this game will draw you in and never let go. You will feel for this character that you know nothing about. You will be engrossed in the story and the musical score is absolutely astounding. It’s simply beautiful, with a haunting cello as the main theme and a wonderfully powerful orchestra used to really drive home the game’s beauty. Journey will bring out your deepest emotions as you experience this artful masterpiece. This game is remarkable because it makes you feel, and you will undoubtedly feel something.
There are also three bonus games included in this collector’s edition, but don’t get your hopes up; they aren’t anything like the three aforementioned games. They are all very simple, pixelated, arcade-type games. They are fun to play for a bit, but will not hold your interest for long. Gravediggers will take you back to early video games, featuring one zoomed-out screen with different levels as you shoot enemies, collect their bones, and then deposit them in a church to get points. Nostril Shot is a 2D side-scrolling shooter with some upgrades and lots of enemies to kill. Finally, Duke War is a two-player game where you raise an army to carry resources to your castle, and the first one to reach the desired quota wins.
As well as the games, there is even more offered in this collection, as concept art and music can be exported to your Playstation system from all three main games. Add in some developers’ commentary, trailers, and screenshots, and you have even more reason to purchase this collection. Then there is also the making of Journey, which will only cause you to appreciate the amazing game even more. All these extra features are well worth looking into if you’re a fan of thatgamecompany at all.
As great as all this is, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy this package. It is currently priced at $30 USD, and if you have never played FlOw, Flower, or Journey, then you should not hesitate to pick up this collection. Flower and Journey are absolutely must-play games. That being said, if you already own Flower or Journey, this isn’t really worth it. The bonus content is cool and the mini-games are fun, but neither are worth paying money for. Journey and Flower are the main attraction here. Nothing has been updated or changed, so you would be buying the same games again. The only other problem with this collection is how each game needs to be installed to your Playstation hard drive. The disc only allows you to install each game, which you then select from your PS3 home screen, but you still need the disc in the drive, which makes it a redundant hassle. It’s a small annoyance, but an annoyance all the same.
FlOw, Flower, and Journey are not to be missed. thatgamecompany is doing something above and beyond other developers, and their games must be experienced to truly appreciate what they have created, and this collection is the perfect chance, Flower and Journey especially. These games are proof that you don’t need giant budgets, huge teams, complex stories, lots of characters, or diverse gameplay to make a good game. These two games will touch you inside, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re either lying or heartless.
This review is based off a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Journey Collector’s Edition developed by thatgamecompany and distributed by thatgamecompany.