The Poem on the Mountain

Posted: April 5, 2012 by jerkmagblog in VAULT -- archives

Recently, a little game called Journey came out. Take a look here.

It’s a beautiful and simple game that anyone can play. You play as the robed figure you see in the trailer, with a mountain looming in the distance. You’re goal is to get there.

That’s it.

It’s not terribly hard or challenging, and it can be completed in about an hour and a half. It’s also one of the best experiences I’ve ever had playing a game.

I had to review Journey for another publication on deadline, and after playing through it twice, I got straight to work on my review. I came up with something serviceable, and sent it in. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in my work.

There’s a challenge in Journey- it’s not required, nor is it part of the main game- but it’s one that asks you to complete the game in one sitting, and then not touch it at all for a week. It’s one of the most interesting things that I’ve ever seen a game ask of its player. It’s something I should have paid more attention to.

Journey is a poem. It’s contemplative, it’s emotional, and it brings much to the table with how visually satisfying and aurally pleasing it is- but it also asks that you bring some of yourself along for the ride. It wants you to play it once. Maybe twice. Go for a walk. Let it linger in your mind, or get pushed aside by your daily cares and responsibilities. And then come back and play it again.

Only after all that, should you really try and talk about it.

I’ve been reading and writing poetry for as long as I can remember, and if you’ve spent any amount of time thinking about poetry, you’ll know that a poem isn’t something that you should read expecting to understand your first time through. You have to invite it in, let it grow and change and read you just as you read it.

I knew going into Journey that it was a poetic work. But I don’t think it registered. I was moved, actually felt emotion from interacting with it, and that in and of itself was remarkable to me, and worth writing about. But it wasn’t everything, and it was a mistake of me to think it was.

It’s been a week since I last played Journey. I think it’s time that I go see what the light on that mountaintop holds for me once more.

-Joshua Rivera


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