Journey. Where do you start when it comes to Journey? A slew of loaded adjectives immediately come to mind: immaculate, visionary, special. But, in this case, only one truly matters: faithful. All you need to know is that Journey for PlayStation 4 is a note-by-note recreation of the PS3 original. Developer thatgamecompany, assisted by Tricky Pixels, have offered us a glorious excuse to return to the single most profound interactive title in recent memory. This is art, this is essential gaming and this is the definitive edition. You can’t get much better than that.
At a loss? You needn’t be. For the unfamiliar, Journey is an arthouse production if there ever was one. Brought to us by the famed Jenova Chen, what we have here is a 3D explorative platformer framed amongst an arid desert. You move; you jump; there is no HUD; there is no voice acting. Journey is defined by this spirit of artful simplicity. In sparsity it allows room for nothing less than perfection.
It’s no secret that I adore this game. I’ve harked on about it plenty before, not least in my list of timeless games. We even ranked it among our list of the top 25 Playstation 3 games – criminally low, in my opinion. This is an exceptional game: not many can dispute that. For this reason, this is not a review of the original Journey. What I’m here to do today is review the performance of Journey’s PlayStation 4 port.
When I booted up Journey after all these years, I expected a pleasant nostalgia trip; what I got was so much more. Journey for PS4 grabbed hold and ran me through sun, dark and snow all over again; it made me infectiously happy, deeply sad, and everything in between, all over again. My latest play through allowed me to appreciate the profundity of this game like never before. It speaks volumes to the game’s quality that – having already experienced every pixel – I could still be dazzled. To say Journey holds up is an understatement.
Speaking of pixels, Journey has received a customary performance enhancement. Colours have been notably improved. Sand now boasts a much richer caramel hue. Deep colours appear to tango in even more artful ways. You may need them side by side to notice, but Journey’s already powerful art style becomes that much more striking. 1080p images now scuttle by at 60 frames per second. Detail wise, both versions look largely identical, while the whole affair runs just a little smoother.
To be expected, Journey’s textures are no longer at the top of their game. But who cares? Journey is a work of art: its festering beauty has always gone beyond tight texture work. Thoughtful effects make you swear you can see every single grain of sand. This largely cell shaded waste lays claim to an art direction which exists outside of time. Journey did, does and always will look beautiful. It just looks a little bit more beautiful on PS4.
If I had to nitpick, there is one feature I wish had been removed. A bright white light will border your screen in accordance to when other players are within your vicinity. By and large, it serves as a needless barrier toward immersion. The extraneous nature of this one detail clashes harshly against the otherwise faultless power of Journey’s meticulously fashioned aesthetic. But hey, at least I might have something to look forward to in the PS5 edition.
I can think of so few games that genuinely succeed in executing everything they set out to do. Journey is one of them. The inspired approach to multiplayer and player-player interaction, economical character design, intuitive mechanics, the length all of them and more mesh so perfectly together to create more special moments than you could possibly keep track of.
Previous owners, you have no excuse: Journey has arrived free for anyone who bought the PS3 version. For those of you who are unfamiliar, don’t be deterred by the concept of £12 for an hour and a half of gameplay. Journey could quite possibly be the best game on PS4 right now. It is so special, so open, so unique that it begs to be played again and again. I can’t wait for my 5th time around.