A spiritual successor of sorts to Flower, Journey is thatgamecompany’s newest PlayStation Network exclusive. A mysterious and non-traditional experience, Journey invites players to think beyond typical game play mechanics and to experience a trip through a visually inspiring world. At E3, we had an extended opportunity to preview this innovative title.

There’s no tutorial or instructions in Journey. Instead, the game opening focuses on a mountain in the distance, inviting the player to make his or her way towards this structure. While the never-ending sands of the desert may seem overwhelming, the game is quite linear and the mountain serves as a reference point. If the player ventures forth in the wrong direction or fails to complete a task before venturing forward, the sands will begin to rumble and winds will begin to blow. Continue to travel in the incorrect direction, and the winds will blow you backwards.

The protagonist resembles a monk-like creature that walks and surfs among the vast desert landscape. The controls for this robed figure are never explained, but left for the player to figure out. Moving the six axis in a direction results in a corresponding move from the in-game camera. Pressing the square button results in the character singing a music note, which is expressed as a foreign symbol appearing on screen.

The environment is as much a character as the one controlled by the player. The rolling hills of sand and unfamiliar architecture begs for exploration. As you guide the protagonist towards this mountaintop, you will discover strange markers and building remains littering the landscape. Investigating these old ruins is part of the focus of the game where unknown but intuitive tasks await the player. You can get a sense of the overall aesthetic from the teaser trailer.

Journey E3 2011 Preview Hands-On Impressions thatgamecompany

Another interesting aspect of Journey is that it contains a rather unique multiplayer option during the single-player experience. During your jaunt through the desert, you may encounter another person making a similar journey. You cannot communicate via voice chat or text, so your interactions are limited to visual cues. Developer thatgamecompany believes that the shared experience of exploring the world offers an additional level of depth and wonder to the proceedings.

The overall game time is approximately three hours. While replaying the game will not offer a new game play experience, game designer Bryan Singh stated that completing the game a second time may offer some perspective on the player’s initial run-through of Journey.

Journey does not have a firm release date, but it is expected to release in 2011. The title will be available exclusively on the PlayStation 3. The price is currently undetermined.