28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Superb Collection From A Great Company!,
This review is from: PS3 Journey Collection (Video Game)
If you have been following the Independent game scene, you you know that this industry is no longer fully underground. Within it, no game developer on the scene has succeeded with that they do as well as thatgamecompany. This company, founded by Jenova Chen, is becoming one of the most promising and exciting game developers in the video game industry. thatgamecompany's games teem with life, beauty, and emotion. Now, they just seem to be getting started. As the company is no longer tied down to a single developer with a small budget, I don't see their vision conforming to any sort of regression. I can only see their visions for gaming going through the roof. If they are able to do so, thatgamecompany could be THE indie game company to beat.
First, before I dive in, I want to take a route and warn customers: This package may not have value if you own a lot of the material. First, though, the contents of the collection themselves. I divided the review in three sections, so feel free to skip which sections you are not interested in.
THE GAMES THEMSELVES
For those of you who aren't familiar with this company, thatgamecompany focuses on delivering games that provide emotion, beauty, meaning, non-violent experiences, and communication. All of their games are highly worth playing, emphasizing a quality experience over other re-playability factors such as extra goals and side challenges. None of the games are particularly lengthy, and none of their games really have much traditional replay value ("unlockables", "pointless simulators of real life menial labor" "high score achievements", "collecting", etc. Actually, personally, I dislike most of these game play elements). But that's not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, these games prove that a gaming experience is galaxy more valuable than any thing else in gaming. Read Jonathan Blow's blog post entitled "Why Aren't Video Games Satisfying?" (on the website for his new game, The Witness), and you might understand why these games are very special.
thatgamecompany's video games, here on one disc, are all excellent. Journey is easily the star here, as Journey is definitely one of the most amazing games in recent memory. In fact, it's easily the best game I've played in 2012 so far (though my prediction for GOTY will be Dishonored). Journey is an interactive parable, designed to be ambiguous and open ended, so the player himself can make the work truly his own personal journey (yes, the title of the game is very accurate). It's praise for the game is really not hyperbole, it's an amazing melange of music, visuals, game play, and sound, all come together and mesh into one. While it's much too in depth to get into here, Journey also uses multi-player in one of the most meaningful ways in gaming (read up Chen's explanation on that). I don't want to spoil too much, but as an allegory released in the 21st century, Journey is one of the best games I've experienced. No joke, it's that good. Yeah, no matter your feeling towards "artistic" games, make the exception. Journey is a must play experience.
The other two titles are much smaller in content, but still terrific. fl0w, which was part of Jenova Chen's master thesis regarding Dynamic difficulty adjustment, deals with using an aquatic micro-organism, which grows as it consumes other micro-organisms. It's simple enough, but it's also a wonderfully soothing. Visually, it does a wonderful job with capturing the experience of evolution and the biology of life itself, like a more evocative Spore. Flower, one of the most well known indie titles on the Playstation platform, is also gorgeous. Flower also has a terrific sound track to back up the visuals, I definitely do feel that these two games show their budget, as both games sometimes feel more like experimental pieces. Having that said, I think that's a good thing. Even better, both games are also short and memorable, like a great animated short. Needless to say, all three games are unique, and worth the price for any gamer.
In fact, each of the games here really do have a personal meaning, especially to the makers who created the video games. Flower, for example, is pretty much akin to Chen's experience with moving to California from China, and what the settings and environment meant to him. At the same time, the games are also a personal experience, letting players themselves get what they want out of the games. Personally, that's the great thing about these games. Aside from the fact that they play well, feel unique and fresh, you really can't go wrong with games that are almost guaranteed to move you and are specifically made to inspire a wide range of emotions in their works. If this sounds even remotely appealing to you, then these games were made for you. Oh, and if you are a fan of Team Ico, also give these games a try. Chen considers Fumito Ueda one of his prime influences.
First, I do think that one set of the features are sort of lackluster. The three little mini-games, created as small diversions from the main games, are nice enough. Unfortunately, I found their appeal to be extremely limited. They aren't too much different from a flash game, and I find flash games extremely limited in replay value, and these ones were no exception. Worse, the games have little to nothing artistic about them, and they don't provide all that much emotional depth, and really just feel like they are just a way pass the time. Fun, but mostly a waste of time. Needless to say, it's not worth buying the collection for them, and I don't see myself ever playing these games regularly.
Fortunately though, everything else is great. In particular, the play through commentary is one of the strongest points, as it truly gives out some great anecdotes regarding the nature of the games on display. Like you might expect from a director's commentary, the commentary provided here provides for some truly interesting details, one that really inflates your appreciation for the games. I also particularly enjoyed the concept art, given that the artistic style is a huge influence on what makes these games brilliant. Flipping through them gives the same thrill you might get from enjoying a concept art book or a bonus gallery on a DVD. There's not too much to say here, other than the fact you get it for all three games, and they are highly worth going back to again and again. After all, the art in these games are so gorgeous as it is; I think they pretty much belong in a museum. Heck, it's better than most things you find in a modern museum.
The sound tracks that are included are beautiful. I won't comment on each individual track, but the music is beautiful, inspiring, heart-rendering, and absolutely lovely. Just take a listen for yourself, and you will understand. On the XMB side, the collection offers special Crossbar themes and avatars. As someone who has about twenty unique Crossbar themes on his hard drive, I can't help but get excited at what you get in the package, as they are all terrific. Avatars, ditto, as they often can say a lot about who you are as a gamer based on the picture (a picture, as they say, is a thousand words).
The trailer and developer diaries are also well developed, and the trailers themselves capture the game rather well. After all, some video game trailers (Dishonored, BioShock Infinite) are works of art in themselves, and it highly applies to these trailers as well. They are definitely worth viewing on their own. The developers diaries I also particularly enjoyed. Too often I feel that the developers themselves have no love at all for their audience, and never at once care about sharing what makes the games they make special. Well, thatgamecompany is different. When they speak, they provide some insight, and they never wasted my time here. They are definitely worth watching, and they really do a great job showing what drives the company in their quest to make personal games.
Finally, the 30 minute Journey documentary follows suit. It was clear that Journey was primed to be a great experience from the beginning, with each member on the team with the intention to do so. Thankfully, the 30 minute documentary definitely fleshes this one out, and by the end of the documentary, you will definitely appreciate the game much more.
Finally, the package contains a one month free subscription to PlaystationPlus. I'm not going to waste your time explaining the benefits of PP, so if you are interested, check out the benefits, which include, among other things, free downloadable games, as well as discounts and special online features. Having said that, it's not worth buying for the package. It's a trivial bonus, and nothing else.
As a big fan of the company, I was very much pleased with this collection. I actually just owned Journey at first, and I'm glad I invested in these games, because Flower and Flow are both terrific as well. Needless to say, these games are easily among the best indie games you can find out there. Needless to say, it's game companies like these that make me happy for the future of gaming. I do think the collection leads towards the newcomers, but that shouldn't stop you from checking out this collection. Just be prepared for this company. Keep an eye out for them. They may just do some amazing things!
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Initial post: Oct 1, 2012 6:03:18 PM PDT
Thanks for the great review and describing everything in the package, not just Journey! I've played these games (though bought them separately, not in this bundle) and it gives me hope for new styles of 'games' on consoles.
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