Journey is not a game that instantly screams co-op at you; its gentile nature and open vistas remind you more of thatgamecompany's earlier solo title, Flower. However, recent previews of the game have highlighted the co-op mode in the game and this is no normal multiplayer. Bucking convention, Journey will not allow you to play with a friend; instead you must work with a stranger.
Thatgamescompany Jenova Chen confirmed to gamerszine earlier this month that the game would force you to work alongside a stranger, but why?
The sands are unknown. If you know your friends when you play this game you'll be thinking about 'what is Tom or Jimmy thinking?', and that's not really what we want you to feel.
You shouldn't know who the other person and why should you care whether this other 'journeyer' is a 60 year old woman or a kid; that doesn't matter. We want to keep the experience within this world, and we felt that friends could dilute what the game is about.
Journey offers a more social experience than most other online multiplayer games, even though you don't get to speak.
Journey is a unique looking game, so why would it not have a unique style of co-op? You will be unable to see the user ID of the stranger you are playing with and communication will only be allowed via in game sound effects, no voice communication. In a world full of obnoxious pre-teens and borderline online psychopaths the concept of relaxed and silent co-op with an unknown could just work. A recent Gameradar preview thinks so:
I don't want to give anything away by talking about specifics, but for the next two hours we experienced the journey as true companions. If one of us advanced faster than the other, we would wait for our friend to catch up. Staying together was as important as completing the journey. There was no way either of us was going to abandon the other and go it alone.
In over 30 years of playing games I've never felt such a strong emotional bond with another character - whether controlled by a living person or an algorithmically constructed AI. I imagine tackling Journey alone would be incredible. But playing it with another person was unbelievable. Mind-blowing.
With such high praise the 13th March release date for this PSN exclusive cannot come soon enough. Check out Co-Optimus in the coming weeks for a review of the co-op journey we plan to take.