对于风之旅人(Journey)的评价

以下内容是我在犹他大学文学系的“视频游戏和故事性(Videogames and Storytelling)”的额外作业,从机制、动力和美学三个方面来理解一款游戏。为了保持原汁原味,以下内容没有作任何的修改。

When asked the goal or purpose when designing Journey, Jenova Chen (Chen Xinghan), director of the game and co-founder of thatgamecompany, wrote that “interaction between people playing video games focuses too much on the use of power, and such phenomena also happen in our everyday life. …… When we designed Journey, we wanted to make a game where people would understand and support each other — instead of empowering players who already feel powerful and omnipotent, we wanted them to feel little (relatively to the world) and alone, so that they would be interested in communicating with others whom they meet online.

Mechanics

Journey is a three-dimensional art and adventure console game directed by Jenova Chen and developed by thatgamecompany (no spaces). The player controls his player character through a controller, with which he can move his avatar and transform his perspective of the screen to obtain a better view. Avatar’s scarf allows him to fly when charged with “energy” from flying strips and will lengthen as the robed avatar touches “white magic” found in the game. You could sing to collect strips that charge energy and to activate graves in stone to view “graphs” and animation.

When playing with Internet connected, the player will be assigned only one other player by the game each level. Unlike in most video games, you cannot kill him, nor can you communicate, nor will you know his or her name until the very end of the game. That being said, you can sing to signal your presence or to charge the scarf of the other avatar, and vice versa. It encourages two players to cooperate with each other to enjoy companion and to enter the next level.

Music as another critical part of the game would change and progress as the player character progresses in different worlds. It in some way motivates and helps the player to concentrate in the game.

Although Jenova Chen wanted players to connect rather than to focuses too much on winning the game, there is still victory condition in Journey, that is, to overcome challenges and summit the mountain, one that you see in the title scene, to enter the white crevice. What follows with the theme song “I Was Born For This” are a lighting star flying from the crevice, credits, scenes the robed avatar went through, names of the companions, and the very starting scene.

Dynamics

Hero’s Journey is the focus and the inspiration of Journey (hence the title), introduced by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, whose basic pattern is the hero driven by something good that would benefit the broken world or society goes on a journey, during which he would encounter threats and dangers, covered in wounds. But then he would meet a mentor who would guide his adventure and let him growth. After the victory is won, the hero would come back to heal the broken.

Journey presents the player with very few words, but yet could evoke emotion so much. When my avatar was born in the dessert, I was curious about the game world and wander around to collect as many strips as possible, in a endless dessert with no one, but myself. Each time I sing to activate the “sand graph” and the animation, I would attempt to connect the meanings between the two. I felt alone, as the designers wanted us to feel, until I finally meet another player in my sight — I was so happy and cheered. We cooperated throughout the later dessert level and the snow level, until the end did I know that I have shared the journey with more than one players.

I felt powerful every time my avatar “slided” at a very high speed and flew nonstop. When he tumbled and fell in the snow, I thought I failed the game, and I failed him — it was me who did not take care of him so he could not move forward. I was relieved seeing several huge figures with white robes (mentors) before saved him. Snow and dragon were no longer threats to me, since I could fly through sky and reach the peak. Thanks to Flow, I was extremely concentrating in the last tens of minutes of the game. To me, everything before the end was about the journey to the goal, as the title suggests, but as soon as I approach the peak with the capacity of flying almost nonstop, the sense of empowerment and success comes into my brain.

“I Was Born For This” as theme song and the star traversing every scene I have been registered scene of accomplishment and elevated the game.

Aesthetics

It is even trivial to see Challenge and Fellowship are two crucial aesthetics of Journey. One important element of Hero’s Journey is challenges, which was represented by the mountain and the distance between the starting point and it. The course of adventure never did run smooth, but with the help of “magic” and mentors, the player levels up as the avatar and could reach the peak regardless of the dangers along the road.

There might be not much Fellowship if you play the game offline. The limit that one could only do very few things with another player is what makes the design of Journey remarkable. Each of you shares the same journey with the same goal in mind, so you would not be distracted by insignificant things or events that happen in most MMO games. You then would actually enjoy the game, rather than play it as simply entertainment.

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