Before, I didn’t know what makes a truly great companion, or what makes you attached to them. What I know is that today, I found one of those indescribably amazing companions. I had only planned on playing a level or two because I had to go to bed soon, but know that I am now typing this at 5:30 AM because I stayed up for this Journey.
I’m not sure when I really started to think of her as my companion instead of just ‘that white cloak.’ Wearing a white cloak myself, I was ready to be rejected. The white cloak went under the sand fall, away from me. At first I thought she was ignoring me, yet it was not so. She was acting as a silent, gentle guide to the glyph (Or wall painting, history, they go by many names.) They did not know how many times I had completed the Journey. How much I had to show them if they would follow.
She was such an odd companion. Insisting on setting free one set of carpets, yet ignoring another. Getting halfway across the pink desert before doubling back for the symbol at the start. It should have been annoying, but it wasn’t in the slightest. We took our time playing in the sand, walking in zig zags, and slowly chirping more as we warmed up to each other.
Maybe the moment that captured me was when I boosted. Boosting is a difficult trick that can only be done in certain spots, like a pillar at the end of the sunken city. You appear to fly into the base of the pillar for a while until you let go and blast off higher than a rocket. I came down from this trick and saw my companion trying to do what I had done, as many try. But she did not do the logical thing of trying to fly into the pillar or jumping after me, she tried to fly straight up the side of the boosting spot like it might magically grab her. I think that was when I decided to show her as much as possible.
We climbed the tower without water as I had done many times before, but it seems my companion was new to it. It took quite a lot of chirping to convince her to come away from the glyph and not activate the water. Still, once she got the idea I wanted her to follow, she did her best. Wrong turns, clumsy flying, and falling was done. She was obviously a new white cloak, and I made sure to fall with her every time. Her effort deserved no less.
In the snow, I tried to take a shortcut. We weren’t going out of bounds (although I think my brave, loyal companion would have followed me anywhere), just exploiting the geometry of the land. You hop back into the hall behind you to defrost, head up to the ledge by the entryway, and fly up the rocks to the side. It lets you skip all the way to the war machine area from the start, and it’s a neat trick to show companions. It took time, but we made it to the ledge right below the last platform. We were one jump away from finishing the shortcut. Then I hear it: A quiet crack of frozen scarf, nearly inaudible under the chirp that caused it. I hoped I had imagined it. With a frozen scarf, the final jump could not be made. I had not imagined it. As I flew quickly up to the platform, my companion barely hovered at half way. I’m not sure why it happened. Maybe she had touched the ground for just a second outside the hallway and it was catching up to her, maybe she had spent too long on a ledge, or a hundred other maybes. All I knew for sure was that she was freezing fast. During the long walk through the snow, you watch the effects of freezing slowly. You watch it affect your character as well as your companion. Here, it was only my companion, and she was freezing from a little frost to frozen solid in less than a minute. Shortened jumps became tiny hops, then soon she barely moved off the ground. Her chirps faded to little circles. Ice raced up her scarf, covered her cloak, and stiffened her legs. She hunched and shivered in a wind I could not feel. Although I stood next to her glowing brightly, her embroidery barely managed a spark of light. Her eyes darkened. For the first time since I fell in the snow my first Journey, I felt an irrational worry creep over me. I knew she would not fall over dead, that it was just the game catching up on the normal ice of the area we were so close to, but it worried me.
I hopped down, all the way down, back to the starting area. We went through the snow together, freezing together. Falling together. Flying together. We drew hearts to one another, and walked into the light. I wasn’t crying, no. I was just tired. Had been staring at the television too long. I couldn’t be actually crying, could I?
It isn’t how fast they fly, what tricks they know, or how long they can stay in the air. It’s loyalty. Being willing to show your companion the flower in the desert even when they don’t get it at first, and being willing to follow them seemingly pointless places when they want to show you something. It’s companionship.