The Journey in Between

Life and death through the lens of Journey and Flow.

Life and death have dominated both general and philosophical discussions for centuries. While we’ve likely all thought about what could possibly be at the end of the road, there’s still a great deal we neglect to even focus on. Namely, the ‘everything in between’ part of life. Through life, I’d argue most people will question their role in society and their choices, but these topics pale in comparison to the intrigue generated by questions like ‘Why are we born?’ and ‘Where do we go when we die?’ Developer thatgamecompany has explored these queries quite substantially in Flow and Journey.

Flow feels like the blueprint for what would later become Journey. Despite this, it still has its own story to tell. As you descend into the depths of a body of water, you avoid certain obstacles with the ultimate goal of hopefully allowing the next evolution of sea creatures the opportunity to do the same. This loop harkens to the idea of leaving the world in a better place than you found it. With each cycle, you’ll likely find yourself traversing the depths with greater ease. There’s a familial connection between each creature, yet, alongside this, Flow perfectly displays the idea of quite liberally “floating through life”. Each descent might be easy, but it’s repetitive and mundane. With brief moments of conflict, Flow certainly establishes an open-ended interpretation that would later sink into thatgamecompany’s prime release.

Journey focuses on what broadly happens between the beginning and end of life. The pilgrimage your character is making is just an allegory for overcoming life’s many challenges. In the process, there’s a possibility of encountering other players. Life is full of people entering and leaving throughout the years. Journey does a fantastic job at condensing that feeling into a handful of hours, with other players joining you for as long as they decide, both of you helping each other overcome the obstacles of the world around you until ultimately one of you departs. It’s truly a moving experience that left me in tears after my first playthrough.

Flow and Journey offer two very different interpretations of life. But still feel connected. The minimalist art style and more interpretive focus on storytelling allow them to resonate with the different stories of each player while tapping into what we all fundamentally experience throughout our lived experiences.

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