A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about and explore what life is and means. While this might sound lofty, these ideas and questions are elegantly posed, and at the heart of the learning value. This is an experience that builds so-called "soft skills," those behaviors and ways of being that make kids better people. And by playing with someone else, kids' experiences can be truly profound because the themes of companionship, loneliness, friendship, love, and loss take on extra weight and power. Journey is compact yet deep, accessible yet profund, and it begs to be played, understood, and discussed.
The anonymous, cooperative online element suggests that life's challenges are easier when strangers pause to help one another. Joyful exploration and dedicated perseverance are running themes throughout the experience.
Positive Role Models
The player's avatar, an entity without gender with glowing eyes and flowing robe, is also without voice. However, through your actions this creature proves to be curious, resourceful, adventurous, cooperative, and devoted to its goals.
Ease of Play
This is an extremely easy game. While only a bare minimum of instruction is provided, both the controls and your objectives are highly intuitive. Once players have become acquainted with the game's controls during the opening level, it's unlikely that they will get "stuck" for the rest of the game.
Violence & Scariness
A large stone serpent may occasionally bump into and send the player's avatar sprawling.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Journey is less a video game and more a work of interactive poetry. Aside from a couple of scenes with ominous music and a flying stone serpent that might prove a little scary to very young kids, the game is safe and innocuous for all ages. It's also very easy to play. That said, its ideas and themes are subtle enough that they risk going unappreciated by younger players, who may simply grow bored. It is a meditative and reflective work the value of which stems from the player's ability to find personal meaning in what he or she experiences. It's perfectly safe for the whole family, but recommended for older kids and adults.
Is It Any Good?
Journey might rightly be taken as an allegory for all of the great journeys we undertake in our lives, be they physical, spiritual, or metaphorical. It’s about persevering through the hardships of a long pilgrimage. It’s about the instinctual drive to return home after time spent in far off places. It’s about discovering camaraderie in strangers who share a similar purpose. Like all art, Journey is about finding personal meaning in a swell of imagery, sound, and narrative.
Journey won’t be to all tastes. It's not a test of skill, though gamers are likely to take pleasure in the simple interface, which allows for precise control over your avatar's flowing movement. And it's not the sort of experience in which your performance is measured by something as crude as a score, though those interested can attempt to scour the game's world for hidden items and locations that will earn trophies for their PlayStation Network accounts. What it is is a fond memory waiting to happen; an experience of beauty, originality, and emotion that will leave an indelible imprint on the intellect of players mature and open-minded enough to let its magic work. More like this, please.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.