Journey

 

Learning(i)

Beautiful adventure less a game than interactive poetry.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

A large stone serpent may occasionally bump into and send the player's avatar sprawling. 

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Minor privacy concerns. This game is played online. Kids will encounter other players, one at a time, as they journey through the game's world. Players can cooperate with one another by working together to overcome obstacles, but they cannot communicate through text, voice, or even gestures. Players cannot control who they play with, and aren't even provided the player handles of those they come into contact with until the game ends. 

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling
  • text analysis

Skills

Self-Direction

  • personal growth

Emotional Development

  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering
  • empathy
  • handling stress

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • teamwork

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Stunning art design paired with a coy but inviting world whose mysteries and wonders compel players forward. 

Learning Approach

The game weaves a deep and impactful metaphor about life's biggest questions that's ripe for reflection.

Support

Elegantly designed to be easy to jump into, play, and know -- seemingly intuitively -- where to go. At some sticky points, however, players without a buddy may need to do some searching.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling
  • text analysis

Skills

Self-Direction

  • personal growth

Emotional Development

  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering
  • empathy
  • handling stress

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • teamwork

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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Tanner Higgin

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What's it about?

JOURNEY, a new interactive experience from the same folks who brought us 2009’s critically adored Flower, isn’t what one normally expects of a game. There aren't any enemies to destroy or even much in the way of obstacles to overcome. It is instead, as its name implies, a voyage. Your avatars -- glowing-eyed creatures dressed in short, flowing robes -- are compelled to move toward a distant mountain. Beginning in the middle of a desert filled with majestic, sand-covered ruins, players slide over dunes and float on both wind and magical energy. Your avatar's scarf, which is slowly lengthened as you locate glowing glyphs scattered around the world, is what powers your flight. Players may occasionally need to stop to activate magical bridges or hide behind stones to avoid powerful gusts of wind, but the experience is, by and large, one of forward momentum.

Journey is also an experience of companionship. While the game can be completed alone, players are constantly connected to the Internet while playing. You occasionally run into other players on the same journey with whom you can choose to cooperate and enjoy the journey together.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about finding personal meaning in games. Do video games ever cause you to reflect on your own life? Have you ever learned something about yourself from a game?

  • Families can also discuss the notion of anonymous cooperative play. How does your behavior change when you cannot communicate with another player or affect his or her avatar? Do you think it encourages online behavior of a more civil nature than is normally found in games?

  • Are you drawn to more creative, indie games? Why or why not?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Price:$19.49
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:August 28, 2012
Genre:Adventure
ESRB rating:E for Mild Fantasy Violence (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4)

This review of Journey was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old June 25, 2012
age 3+
 

Very emotional title!

Very emotional title, though not for everyone. People may get bored, and there are scary sea dragons that might scare kids under 3. Overall, nothing too bad and a MUST PLAY!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 12 years old April 18, 2012
age 5+
 

Beautiful, touching PS3 game that shows that you don't need narrative to have a beautiful story

I love this game so much. the graphics are excellent and there is great messages, since this is about life, death, and rebirth. Though kids under five might be scared by the stone serphents.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byLuv2Laugh16 August 19, 2013
age 6+
 

Journey is a masterpiece worth playing even if you're not into indie type games.

What a journey this game sends you on. It's absolute breath taking. It's a true work of art. First time playing this I was intrigued and curious. I wanted to explore ever meter of the area around me, because it was just to amazing to look at. This game truly does put the emphasis on action speaks louder than words. But as beautiful and light-heart this game is, it gets darker as you progress through the game. The ending had me in tears. In a nutshell, Journey is a masterpiece worth playing even if you're not into indie type games. It's an experience I think everybody should have.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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