First Person

First Person
Journey Is A Mirror

Dennis C. Scimeca | 16 Apr 2012 21:00
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The snowy path opens into a valley where a monster flies through the air, casting a spotlight on the ground as it searches for you. I didn't follow my partner closely enough. The monster fixed me with the spotlight from its single eye, dove and knocked me through the air. I landed and lay in the snow, frozen. She immediately came running, singing to warm me such that I could get up and take shelter, but I panicked when the monster loomed and I stopped dead in my tracks. The monster struck me again.

Your ability to sing in Journey is limited by how much energy your wanderer has stored, and by the time you reach these snowy areas, all the energy you walk in with is all the energy you will have for the rest of the game. Every time my partner warmed me up, she used up more and more of her energy. By the time we walked into a huge plain of snow, I prayed we would reach the other side again quickly because neither of us had much energy left.

There are few things worse than letting down or not being there for someone you love, realizing you've been selfish and while you can apologize and not repeat the mistake, you can never go back to that moment and repair the error. It was my fault we were freezing to death. She had waited patiently for me when I'd wandered, signaling to me with song when we were separated so that I could find her again, and had been my partner and companion for hours and now we huddled together, trying to warm each other in the blinding storm. Our pace grew slower. All I wanted to do was apologize, and then she fell into the snow, face first, and my heart sank.

I don't want to say one's ability to appreciate Journey depends on experiences so specific as love or romantic relationships. I think plain-old friendship suffices as context, but I don't see Journey as a videogame to be appreciated solely within the confines of what takes place on the screen and the mechanics that create the experience. The ability of Journey to serve as a mirror to hold up to ourselves is why it matters, because that's what the finest creative works are all about. They're not about what the artist intended, or what we're meant to get out of them, but the why of how we react, and what that says about who we are.

Dennis Scimeca is a freelance writer from Boston, MA. You can read some of his other musings on his blog punchingsnakes.com, or follow his random excitations on Twitter: @DennisScimeca.

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