Journey: Nihilism at its Finest

I should preface this by warning those who care that this will contain spoilers for the game Journey.

Yes: Journey. The game by ‘That Videogame Company’ which came out in 2012. I love everything about this game: The art style. The soundtrack. The narrative.

To those who don’t know or never cared to know, Journey is a game where you direct a nameless, voiceless character from the beginning of a map to the end. The path is full of puzzles and various clues to a past. Nothing is explained, in a tradition sense, and the clues are there for you piece together as time goes on.

It is a simple game in every way. That is what makes it so daunting and stressful at times. I do find that part mildly ironic. I first was introduced to this game by someone who sold me on it by claiming it is relaxing.

Due to the fact there is no narration and little text, the player is taxed with finding the correct path from point to point. You are doing so while trying to complete the task.

What task?

Well, the game does not tell you. Ever. You assume it is important. You assume that it will be explained as time goes on. However, you get to the end and…

Yep.

The game concludes with a cinematic recap of the environments you just tread while the credits roll and beautiful music plays in the background.

It is kind of an anti-climax, but I still found it incredibly satisfying.

You see, I took the game to artistically depict my views on life.

All that matters is now. The events that happen later are, yes, in consequence of what now contains. This does not change the fact that whatever you are feeling now is all that matters.

Journey displays this by telling the player to go on an adventure. One that does not contain any direction except for the walls of the environment. The player has to then endure many difficult trials with NO rhyme or reason except to get to the end. Then, there is end. You die. Well, maybe not DIE, but you do stop existing in the ‘physical’ realm.

The strangest part of this ending was what I felt when I realized what had just happened: I felt accomplished. I felt like everything that needed to be done was done. I had a tonne of fun playing the game, and when it was over, I realized that I could play it again if I wanted to, but there was not that longing to.

That sounds so much worse than I intended it to. I played it again because I WANTED to. Not because the game was taunting me with a ‘maybe’ further play-through. I know I missed secrets on my first play, but my second I knew I was playing as a new character. My previous character was dead, and that was fine.

I cried just as hard the second ending as I did the first. Yes, me, an adult male, cried at the end of basically a cartoon with the bleakest outlook on existence that I have ever seen portrayed in that artistic medium.

Recently, I started following a play-through of someone playing Journey. It had been five years, give or take, since I had played, so of course I was compelled to watch. His commentary was annoying at times, he missed things that I noticed in the background, he went ways that I remembered as being wrong ways, but I will still link as many people as I can to the playlist because I think the game is that important.

To answer the question preemptively: yes, I wept at the end. I wasn’t even embarrassed, even though my dogs were looking at me like I had something wrong with me.

So, why did I open with a bold comparison saying this bleak, beautiful game is anything like nihilism? The game shows that there is no reason for anything we do. Like the game, life is a bunch of attempts at things until something sticks. In the end, it really does not matter what we have done. What does matter is how happy we are at the time.

I will take this opportunity to say that this is a blog, not a direction on how to live. If you are going to take my words to heart, talk it over with someone who understands the direction in which you are taking it. I am just kind of waffling through this post wile I keep my pets away from things they should not eat.

Also, I would like to point out the irony in me saying ‘only now matters! later means nothing!’ as I write this post one week before I post it.

I HOPE YOU HAVE A GOOD HALLOWE’EN!

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