- Could also be called the thatgamecompany collection.
TGC, or thatgamecompany, have made a name for themselves by releasing games that perhaps do not fit into the usual videogame genres, and the Journey: Collector’s Edition celebrates this by packing in their three most recent titles, three games that were knocked together in 24 hours, and a load of digital goodies. It is the perfect introduction to their work…
This Collector’s Edition includes the award winning Journey alongside previous releases Flower and FlOw to provide your gaming fix. But each of these games exist on the edge of videogame genres – there is no shooting or driving, the stories are either barely comprehensible or non-existent, puzzles are simplistic and there is no score. It may sound as if this collection of games has very little to offer the regular gamer, but that is actually far from the truth.
For me, this was the first time that I had actually played Journey. Sure, I had seen it around, it was difficult to miss as the hype behind this game was huge. But I had watched the videos and just didn’t get it, ignoring it as just not for me. However, once I actually sat down to play, I didn’t get up again until the game was finished.
Which was quite fortunately about 90 minutes later. Journey is a very short game, but this is something that actually works in its favour.
The player is cast into the role of a cloaked figure in the desert and, through some clever camera work and subtle indications, is encouraged to reach a mountain in the distance. The character glides across the sand and, with the help of strange flying ribbons, is able to jump for a time depending on the length of the ribbon hanging down their back. Beside the jump button, the only other control that the player needs worry about is the one that makes their character sing, which can activate various ribbon objects as part of the simple puzzles, or as a means of communication between other players.
Which is one of the highlights of this experience. During the Journey, players will come across other characters and may travel with them through their game, helping out with the puzzles. These other characters are actually controlled by players around the world, able to drop in and out of your game, or you in theirs, at the whim of the game. It is quite exciting when you spot someone in the distance, and you will not know who they are until after the final credits when the gamertags of your companions are revealed.
It is difficult to call Journey a game, as it has none of the regular characteristics you would expect. It is better to refer to it as an experience, and it is one of the most moving experiences that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. The visual and audio work in Journey is beyond compare, looking and sounding stunning whilst also serving to carry the player through their experience. There is a storyline with some slightly religious undertones, but without any speech and only vague drawings it is quite difficult to follow. But it doesn’t really matter as the game works perfectly well without.
The second game in the collection is Flower, in which the player simply controls a bunch of petals as they navigate environmental puzzles to bring dull landscapes into bloom. Again, there is a story of sorts, but the game uses sound and visual cues to move the player forward so whatever the suggestion of a story is, it’s just not important.
Flower uses the motion control of the PlayStation controller to move these petals around, with a boost available through one of the buttons. Once an area has been completed, the game screen moves back to a blooming flower on a windowsill and the next flower, and area, will become available.
As with Journey, the game both looks and sounds amazing, and the relaxing gameplay is actually more compelling than you would imagine.
The third main game in the Journey: Collector’s Edition is FlOw, a game in which the player must navigate the primordial ooze as a single celled organism. The player must consume cells smaller than themselves, whilst avoiding the bigger ones as they move through the different layers of the ooze, growing bigger and more complex as they progress.
As with Flower, FlOw uses the motion control once again and can be tricky to get to grips with. It is not as intuitive as the other two games and doesn’t carry the same level of visual or audio polish, leaving Flow as perhaps the weaker of the three games.
Beyond these three titles, the collection also includes three more games that were created by thatgamecompany as part of a 24 hour GameJam, meaning they were all presumably knocked together in 24 hours. These mini games all work, but act more as proof of how talented thatgamecompany are rather than any serious type of game. They will entertain for all of five minutes, but are a nice addition to the collection.
And then the collection brings a host of digital goodies as well, including dynamic themes and wallpapers, concept art and screenshots, a behind the scenes documentary and creator commentaries, avatars and trailer. For the fan of thatgamecompany, the Journey: Collector’s Edition is packed with goodness.
But here lies one of the major problems with this collection. It is aimed primarily at fans of Journey, but the meat of the collection is the games and if the gamer already owns even one of the games on PSN, then the collection becomes overpriced and pointless. Journey: Collector’s Edition is available in stores for around £18, but will really only be attractive to gamers who don’t own any of the games.
The other thing that I found frustrating was that the games need to install from the disc before you can play them, yet the disc still needs to be in the machine. It just seemed a bit counter-intuitive to me.
Is it worth picking up Journey: Collector’s Edition? Well, if you have not played Journey then you owe it to yourself to grab the game. But whether or not it is worth getting the Collector’s Edition comes down to how much the player wants to play the other two games, and if they already own any of them. Everyone should own Journey, but it is likely that most gamers already do.