I know I keep saying this, but downloadable video games are proving to be the gaming equivalent of low-budget films, providing a platform for developers who wouldn’t normally get a chance to share their vision. Well, Thatgamecompany (good name) is an indie video game developer founded by Kellee Santiago and Jenova Chen, who basically made their first game in their last year of University. Since then they’ve proved that games can truly inspire deep emotional responses in players, with Flow and Flower, both simple but beautiful downloadable games.
The intention of these rather lovely games is to create a feeling, a mood, in the player, it’s almost like meditation and provides an experience that is unique to the game medium. The fact that so many games are now really exploring the potential of the artform, rather than trying to copy movies (like so many of the bigger, more expensive titles), is really encouraging, and proves that the video game industry is finally getting to grips with it’s identity.
Thatgamecompany’s latest downloadable title is Journey, and although it doesn’t have a release date, it is expected to be available this year (but only for the PlayStation network). Journey is looking to be a very ambitious title, it takes place in a vast desert, with no map or instructions. A huge mountain glimmers in the distance, and the players only objective is to reach it, traversing the landscape on a lonely pilgrimage in a strange land. The game welcomes online play, so you can make the journey with others, but there are no names, nothing to distinguish the other players and no way to communicate. It is possible to help one another, or ignore each other completely, regardless it is a far cry from most multiplayer experiences, which generally involve shooting each other with loud guns. The objective of Journey is to create a shared experience which isn’t about violence, it’s shifting the perception of what a game can be and that’s a really exciting idea.
Journey will be released some time this year and will be available on the PlayStationNetwork.
Flow and Flower are both available on the PlayStationNetwork.