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Happy birthday to ‘Journey,’ an intuitive, emotive adventure

‘Journey’ helped expand the parameters of video game experiences upon its 2012 release. — Picture by Thatgamecompany via AFP‘Journey’ helped expand the parameters of video game experiences upon its 2012 release. — Picture by Thatgamecompany via AFPSAN FRANCISCO, March 11 — Celebrate the five-year anniversary of Journey with these five thematically related games— Abzü, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Gardenarium, 30 Flights of Loving and Proteus.

When Journey released on PlayStation 3 on March 13, 2012, it was already standing on the shoulders of giants, unlikely though they may have been.

Flow (2006) and Flower (2009) explored concepts of immersion and were, in contrast to higher profile blockbusters of the time, relatively free of game-ending risk, instead pursuing a more meditative headspace.

Journey followed and had players adopt the identity of a hooded, robed traveller, starting out in a deserted wilderness and steadily making their way towards a mountaintop destination.

Decidedly nonverbal, Journey nonetheless transported players through a variety of emotional hills and valleys, even offering a twist on online multiplayer that encouraged co-operation and radically limited the potential for unwanted interference.

It and its two predecessors were subsequently re-released for PlayStation 4, which is expected to accommodate a fourth game from Thatgamecompany sometime in 2017.

30 Flights of Loving

Debut: August 2012 Windows PC, Mac OS X

A short vignette that takes its cues from a film school background, and sharing the Journey predilection for mute character interactions; it’s up to the player to work out what’s going on as scenes progress out of sequence, navigating a wedding, underground hideout, airport terminal, and so on.

Proteus

Debut: January 2013

PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux

Response to Proteus and a number of other games emerging around the same time led to the emergence of explorative games termed Walking Simulators; this pixelated, abstracted example advocated freeform experiential wanderings within a randomly generated island chain that nonetheless contained strange mysteries to be discovered.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Debut: August 2013

Xbox 360, Windows PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Another game extolling wordless protagonists who were noted for their ability to push players’ emotional buttons; siblings Naia and Naiee embark on a mission across fantasy lands to fetch a medicinal remedy for their unwell father.

Gardenarium

Debut: April 2015 Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux

Eliciting a gentle, relaxed approach, Gardenarium places players upon a cloud, where they can help wild and wonderful plants to prosper, encountering the floating land’s strange inhabitants upon the way.

Abzü

Debut: August 2016 PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

Closely related to Journey by virtue of its themes and its design lead, who worked on the earlier project, Abzü submerges players in an underwater realm, within which are hidden special shells, statues, and submersibles to find among its plentiful plants and creatures. — AFP-Relaxnews

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