Videogames used to be so simple, right? You’d blast space bugs from the safe, third-person viewpoint of a starship. Or dodge hammers and barrels thrown at you by a psychotic simian. But now the medium has matured to the point that it encompasses incredible diversity and literary ambition. If, as my colleague Darren Franich suggests, Mass Effect 3 represents the more ambitious end of videogame prose — interactive experiences governed by rich, novelistic storytelling — then Journey, due from provocative boutique thatgamecompany for PlayStation March 13, is poetry. Mass Effect 3 is to Journey what James Cameron is to Terrence Malick.
Journey is pretty much self-explanatory. You’re born into an enigmatic desert over which looms a far off mountain peak. Your goal? Travel to said peak, encountering ruins, sandstorms and your fellow travelers (other gamers logged in via the PlayStation Network). When you first arrive, most of the pleasure of the game derives from exploring your environment, but Journey becomes increasingly goal-oriented as you make your way closer and closer to the mountain. Just why do you want to ascend that mountain so badly? Because it’s there! And because it’s a test of yourself. While the earliest games were simplistic by necessity, Journey‘s stripped-down aesthetic is evocative minimalism by design. Call it a metaphor for life… or whatever you want: the experience of playing Journey says as much about you as it does about the game.
To get you excited for its debut next week, thatgamecompany has given an exclusive video to EW.com featuring commentary from the game’s writers, designers, and producers that will begin your immersion in Journey‘s many mysteries. Check it out after the break.