Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Second Journey

Well, I finally got around to it!  The first time that I played Journey was way way back in summer, at the end of July, and boy was it an amazing experience.  I was just a plain old first-timer who didn't know how to do anything at all, didn't know anything about the levels or what anything meant or anything.  I don't even think I realized that I was meeting different companions until the end of the game (I think I had like 3 or so?).

This second time was much different.  Of course, emotionally the story was less poignant, less heart-wrenching because I knew everything that was coming, but it was actually still really emotional.  The first time through is really special I think, because you really are fully immersed in it and you are really "taking the Journey" yourself, so to speak, but really the emotional impact is still there afterwards's not really anything to do with shock value; it's just...very beautiful and amazing.  I really can't sing enough praise for this game.

Anyhow, here I was, setting up for my second game...this time I created my own PSN account so that I would be using my own username instead of my brother's (using his PS3 to play).  That took a bit, and then I was in the middle of the sand dunes for the second time...

Sometime in the middle of my extended break from Journey, I had stumbled upon the official Journey forums and had become super fascinated with the forum culture, the community, and all of the accumulated tricks and knowledge and fantastic experiences that existed there.  It was mostly this that motivated me to go back and take the Journey again--along with learning about the symbols, white cloaks, and all of that that I never knew anything about on my first playthrough.

One thing that I had also learned about during my brief skim through the forums was the faceplanting move--if you run in a certain way, you actually cause your character to fall over and faceplant in the sand, which is amusing by itself, and apparently great fun to do once you've got a companion.  (the forum members also use it as one of the ways of differentiating forumgoers from non-forumgoers)  I couldn't quite remember how to do it, so I looked it up online and got the hang of it.  Because of the whole nature of Journey and passing down experience and secrets and everything to newer Journeyers, I actually don't want to spoil very much for myself, and instead prefer to find it by wandering around and experimenting, or just by having my companions show me...but I was really really excited about the faceplanting thing so I let myself have an exception for that.

Anyways, I went on my way and then lo and behold, as I was working with the bridges in the first area I connected with somebody!  I didn't know that it was possible to connect that early in the game--during my first playthrough I remember going significantly further while I was still alone.  So I ran over and we started going through the game together; he or she seemed friendly enough.

One thing I did notice was the ease at which I settled into the "follower" role when I was with them.  I think this happened on my first playthrough as's just so natural for me to let them decide where we're going, what we're doing, and just let them walk ahead.  I think part of it of course is my inexperience with the game, but it's also just a part of my personality, I think.  Journey probably enhances this more because of its lack of communication--I don't want to try and argue with the other person, and there's no real way for me to say "sorry" if I screw up either!

So I did that for this companion too, and it was working just fine.  I got a much better insight into how the chirping works and how it recharges your companion's scarf if you chirp loudly while they're near...we actually did a bit of what I presume is called "tandem flying" (?) by chirping at each other while in the air to keep each other charged felt wonderful!  Of course, it also helped that I had a longer scarf this time. :)  I had taken my time through the very beginning of the first area, and found an extra symbol as a result.

I noticed quite early on that this companion liked to wander around a lot.  I couldn't really decide what to make of it at first.  When I really noticed this was after the history lesson at the platform that you reach via one of the dragon scarf animal things...instead of walking forward and continuing to the next area, my companion went the opposite way and started wandering around to various places in the desert.  Because of the way that they showed me one or two of the other glyphs/symbols, I kind of thought that they were more experienced than me (I didn't yet know the difference between red cloak designs) one point I remember thinking to myself that maybe they were just an old veteran (maybe a former white cloak?) that was playing around and wandering around the levels to sightsee.  I really couldn't tell--all I knew is that we spent quite a bit of time wandering around in that level, pushing into wind currents that blocked us from proceeding further, etc.

At one point we returned to the platform with the meditation circle, and my companion stood over the pillar corresponding to the one symbol that we had yet to find, chirping at me.  I understood the message, and was ready to follow them in search of it...

However, I was also a bit anxious at this point because of an issue on my end--the PS3 controller that I was using was signaling to me that it was low on batteries, and my brother wasn't home, so I had no idea where the charger was.  I wasn't sure whether it would last through the entire playthrough, and I was REALLY afraid of suddenly having my controller cut out and being unable to communicate with my companion at all as to what had happened.  I texted my brother and he told me where to look, but I needed to notify my companion that I needed some time to deal with some things.  I stopped, chirped like mad, then pressed start to pause the game (your in-game character sits down when you do this).  I didn't actually end up finding the controller charger, but I did find another usb cable that would work, so I quickly found it and returned to the game, breathing a huge sigh of relief when I found that my companion was waiting patiently for me and that all would be well.  (I also contemplated the fact that I was supposed to be meeting a friend at some point, and if the Journey took too long, I would need to signal to my companion that I really wouldn't be coming back....*sweat*)

We eventually found the last symbol, along with the Flower secret.  I remember joyously chirping and chirping when we finally saw that symbol and collected it.  Actually...I chirped like mad in appreciation every time my companion showed me any of the symbols ^^;  I felt so silly, missing some of them that were almost in plain sight, but at the same time I was grateful to have someone pointing them out to me.

At one or two points I actually remember my companion sitting down and pausing their game, and I briefly wondered whether they were actually just taking that time to reference a walkthrough of some sort, to see where all of the symbols were...

It was quite a different experience going through the above scene with a companion.  The entire sequence of sliding/skimming across the sand with the upbeat energetic music was actually quite different in feeling now that I had someone else there, as I kept on worrying that I would lose them, and I also kept on worrying that they would point out and get some symbol and I would totally fail to reach it...xD  They did end up showing me a symbol, and thankfully I was able to follow their path and reach it.

The above image is one of the most amazing moments in Journey, I think, but I actually think it was more emotionally impactful when I was going it alone.  Just me and the beautiful, amazing landscape...On the other hand, there were a few moments during that sequence where I just felt inexplicably happy to be with my companion.  I guess it's worthwhile to experience it both ways.

We ended up missing a scarf symbol in that level, actually.  We dropped into the darker bluer area, and at the end-of-area statue we chirped to each other, standing on the pillar that wasn't lit up.  We did find the picture thing to the left in that area, but apparently we had missed that symbol earlier on and it was too late for us to go back for it.

I took the opportunity to do a faceplant before moving on.

I was a bit anxious to go through the part with the war machines that attack you and make your scarf shorter, especially since I had gotten torn up pretty badly by them during my first playthrough (resulting in a pitiful scarf length when I came out of that area...), but my companion stuck to the far left of the level, out of most of their paths, so we were fine, and didn't even have to hide in the little tunnels.

It was during this level that at one point I simply lost sight of my companion and couldn't seem to locate them at all.  At one point we were both flying in the same direction, and then suddenly I had no idea where they were.  I saw the white glow at the edge of my screen a few times, but when I panned the camera, nothing was there.  Where were they?  I kept trying for a bit, but without any luck.  Well, that was really sad...I started thinking that maybe I would just hide in a corner or nook and pause/sit down, and finish the game at a later point after doing some other stuff, now that I had lost my companion, but just as I was turning back forwards to move onwards, I saw white pulses coming from the distance--it was my companion, who was sending out loud bells, like a beacon for me to find.  I was so happy!  I rushed over to them as quickly as I could, chirping like mad with excitement.

I had actually forgotten the sequence that happens near the end of that area, so I was actually genuinely concerned when the war machines started to go after my companion.  Haha, I guess some things still surprise you even after the first time...

Climbing the tower was fun--whenever we activated one of the wall drawings, I tended to stand up close to it and stare at it for a bit.  I think role-playing your character in games this way is just so awesome...and Journey is really the perfect game for it too, since you can't chat or anything! ^^;  My companion also showed me the Flow secret here, which was cool!  I was really confused when they first took me to it because I didn't notice it...

Side note, I had the idea even before I met my companion that I would try and do short chirps to the rhythm of "Shave and a Haircut", and see if they would catch on and respond with the "two bits" rhythm.  (This is the dun, dududun dun...dun dun rhythm.  You know...this one)  It's actually a little bit difficult to do it quickly because of the delay between pressing O and actually hearing the chirp--you can't rely on the sound of the chirps to be in time, so you just have to concentrate on your own tapping of the button.  I eventually got the hang of it, and tried to pitch it multiple times to my companion, but they never seemed to catch on.  I guess ideally I need to wait for an opportune time, when we had some downtime to "talk" to each other without much distraction, but they might just not have gotten it anyways.

Going through the snowstorm and all of that wasn't nearly as heart-wrenching as the first time, though the sense of -anticipation- that I got before that segment was a lot higher since I knew what was coming.  There was actually one point on the windy bridge where I confused my companion for myself and ended up being blown backwards before I realized what had happened, but my companion patiently waited for me, giving me some chirps for encouragement.

I don't actually remember the lantern in the middle of that level, though I did remember the secret wall painting in there because one of my companions had shown it to me during my first playthrough.  I like that lantern :)

Before we walked out into the final snowstorm, I deliberately stopped walking forward and did some to say, "this is it, my friend".  I still can't think of that sequence without being affected emotionally.  It was quite the experience. was even more harrowing the first time around, actually, because my companion at the time kept on drifting to the left for some reason, so it took longer and I was also really torn between following them and just pushing on straight forward.  Haha, I also remember trying to keep on chirping faintly in the snowstorm during my first playthrough...I was actually super touched when finally I saw a faint chirp back from my companion at one point.

Then it was off to paradise, where I....lost my companion again.  If I remember correctly, the same thing happened during my first playthrough...maybe it's just a tendency in that area that makes it hard for me to follow the other person?  I'm not too sure.  If I remember correctly, I didn't even see a companion in the beginning of this area during my first playthrough, which actually made it much more relaxing, as I just took in the wonderful sights and scenery without worrying about being left behind or anything.

This time I was a bit torn as to whether I should stop moving and try to locate my companion, or just book it to the end of the level, hoping that they hadn't already left me behind.  It's always distressing, not knowing where your companion is, really.  I decided to keep on moving forward, and was actually really disappointed when I reached the end and didn't see anyone there yet.  But I hung around there and after not too long, my fellow red cloaked Journeyer arrived and I excitedly ran up to meet them.  Before we walked into the final mountain, I stopped, chirped, and drew the best heart that I could in the snow there, tracing it around a few more times for emphasis. (I got the idea from a friend who had also played Journey)  After a few seconds, my companion drew their own version of an (admittedly wobbly) heart, which totally made my day.

We walked into the light, I let the credits scroll, and I immediately wrote down the PSN ID of my companion.  Yes, I had stayed with the same one for the entire game.

I got a friend request from them soon after, and accepted it.  I sent them a super enthusiastic thank you for my second Journey ever, and we sent a couple of messages back and forth...mostly me saying thank you for everything, apologizing for the times that I screwed up, hoping that my faceplanting was amusing (apparently they didn't know how to do it), and expressing my gratitude for all the times they waited for me and were patient with me.  They echoed the thanks, and said it was too bad that we missed the one symbol in the sandsurf segment--they were going to go back there and get it so that they could get their white cloak.

I also thanked them for replying to my heart at the summit...they (or should I say, she) said that their boyfriend had actually stolen the controller away from them at that point and just started drawing it, and initially she had thought that he was drawing something phallic....ahahaha, but no, it turned out to be a heart. xD

All in all, a wonderful, wonderful second Journey, and I can't wait to take the Journey again and meet new companions.  Just hoping that I can remember all of the things that were shown to me today! *sweat*

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