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Three very different experiences
...made in a single linear, 2-3 hours long game. That's not something I see often.

At the time of this writing, I have completed Journey four times. My second playthrough was underwhelming because I wasn't sure what I wanted it to be like. But the other three all stood out.

  • My first playthrough was full of uncertainty and exploration. I was still figuring out the mechanics of this game and was mostly The Load to my companions—though none of them was much better off. The defining property of this first experience was the thrill of not knowing what comes next.
  • My third playthrough was a solo achievement trip, where I specifically hunted for the Transcendence and the White Robe. It was very different from the first two because I was alone the whole time. The Tunnels take on a whole new level of scary without a companion.
  • My fourth playthrough was online again, with both me and my companion wearing White Robes. Once again, it was different from everything before, not just because of the new amazing feeling of freedom, but also because we both knew the levels by heart already and stuck together until the end.

The final level reflected my three experiences in an interesting way. The first time around, I lost track of my companion and was too busy looking for them to appreciate the scenery. The third time, I was on my own, so I spent time to take it all in. But it was the fourth time, as my companion and I raced each other to the summit, that I fully comprehended how huge the positive emotional charge of that one level is. It took me four tries to see it but I don't regret a single minute spent on getting there.

I think what's so precious about Journey is that its creators managed to imbue it with a magic that transforms it into something very different yet instantly recognizable every time you embark on it. That's not something I see often.
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