The Night Journey operates as a walking simulator that ties together experimental art and narrative to explore the individual player’s journey towards enlightenment.
The Night Journey opens in the midst of a dark plain, the landscape is minimal and exclusively painted in a monotone black and white palate, muffled with the crackling effect seen in most old films. Belonging to visual artist Bill Viola these graphics mean that although your vision is mostly obscured, more emphasis is placed on sound design and when they sporadically do appear, visual clues stand out against the pitch-black sky. The direction of the story and ultimately the shape of the world are knotted together by certain events that the player will initiate during their exploration. These events alter both the player and the strange world they reside in, letting The Night Journey act as a unique set of roads to the same destination.
As the player investigates the fuzzy black and white world they can stop and reflect on their current location by pressing X. Reflecting close to certain buildings, clearings and settlements will unwind a clip, flurry of lights or even a physical change to the environment. During times of silent frustration its rewarding to see a change in the world which highlights a possible path should the player become stuck.
Whilst there is no set narrative or structured path in this indie title, The Night Journey is a simplistic game which relishes in providing players a relaxing experience riddled with questions and puzzles regarding the human journey through life. Although the game may be slow paced it pays off well, leaving the player to ponder their personal journey as they trudge through the grey speckled land.
My one criticism of the game may be that for certain players the walking speed may be slightly slow, although it’s clear to see the intention behind this is to place emphasis on the journey, not the destination. However the walking speed is notably slower than other walking simulators including the infamous crawling pace of Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture. The Night Journey however also suffers with graphic distortion when the player is turning, meaning that the screen pulls as the player twists. This effect is unpleasing and creates difficultly when the player tries to pinpoint distant locations as they spin. Thankfully paths can be carved out from most directions, so players can avoid the spinning camera angle to some extent.
The beauty of this walking simulator is the depth of the game which is told through the images and videos portrayed during the short duration of The Night Journey. Most seem vague and disconnected but when a player pieces together the imagery a disjointed story in a unknown world can be unravelled.
Overall the game provides an interesting interpretation of the human spiritual journey, one which slowly reveals truths about the nature of the human condition. Given the awe produced from The Night Journey it will be exciting to see what the team produce going forward.
*This honest review was written in exchange for a code for the game*