Critical Play: Journey

The walking simulator game that I chose to play was “Journey” on iOS by Annapurna Interactive. The target audience for the game as stated on the App Store is anyone above 4+, however, it can also be very enriching for adults as well because of the content and graphics. The formal elements of the game are very minimal. The player can move around and adjust their view with the left and right toggle. They can also jump and “shout” to interact with objects. The goal of the game is to walk around and uncover the ruins of what used to be a civilization, but seems to have been wiped out in a sandstorm.

The types of fun that this game achieves is sensory, submission, and discovery. First off, the graphics, physics, and animations of the game are phenomenal. The game designers used a minimal yet effective earth color scheme to create a cohesive environment. Moreover, the soundtrack adds to the ambience of the desert. The movement of the characters and objects are also beautiful in that there is so much attention to detail. For example, when the character is walking up a sand dune, the walking animation is different from walking on flat sand. Since the game goes at the pace as the player, it can also be a form of submission as people can take it at their own pace. Finally, the game is one of discovery as the player uncovers the remnants of the destroyed civilization. One moment of particular success was when I discovered the first gate. Given that there is very little context going into the game, it is a bit difficult to figure out what exactly you’re supposed to be doing at the beginning. This is also something I would change about to game. I think the game designer should provide a little more guidance for the player otherwise they may lose attention immediately.

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