Above: I'm standing on the edge of tomorrow / And it's all up to me how far I go
My review of Journey is up now at thephoenix.com. It is the culmination of a lifelong scheme to infuriate honest gamers everywhere, and to troll good-hearted players for pageviews in a cynical cash grab. Or it's an accurate reflection of my experience with the game. One of those two things.
I admired thatgamecompany's Flower, mostly for the sensation of flight it gave, which remains the best use of the Sixaxis that I've encountered. Journey isn't much different from that game in the nuts and bolts. You wang around the levels, coming into contact with things that light up, and don't do much that feels traditional or objective-based. (Though Journey is more traditional than Flower in terms of your avatar's moveset, its appeal is also not predicated on your mastery of those moves.) I didn't find the same feeling of exhilaration in the moment-to-moment play of Journey as I did with Flower, and I also thought it strained much harder for relevance. I am all for games that break the rules in an attempt to offer a different kind of experience -- obviously -- but this one didn't do it for me.
I was interested to see that Tom Chick's Journey review was the only one indexed on Metacritic that resembled my own take on the game. Even more interesting was his follow-up, "The official Journey review FAQ," which was his response to the predictable shitstorm that arose after his original review. I have to wonder why a game like Journey, which has a Metacritic score of 92 and is the fastest-selling game in PSN history, needs such ardent defenders. Journey fans: you have already won! The slaughter rule is in effect.
This does speak to the difference between a game review and criticism, though. Are people concerned that Chick's review will dissuade potential Journey fans from trying the game? Are they just looking for validation of their own positive experiences, even though they could get it from almost every other review? Do they sincerely believe that Chick missed something, or that they can change his mind if they just call him an asshole loudly enough?
It is very likely that we'll be covering these topics and more at our PAX East panel, "Stuff Your Criticism, I Want a Review!" Friday afternoon at 3 in the Wyvern Theatre. Pick up a copy of the Phoenix before you come! You can roll it up and whack me on the nose with it.