I had the pleasure of introducing my father to the world of Journey last night. I eagerly loaded the game onto my ps3 and thrust the controller into my father’s hands.
"Wait I’m playing? I thought you were going to?" He objected.
I just shook my head and sent him on his way.
It soon became apparent, however, that my father was going to need some help. He struggled with flying and had no idea how to use the camera controls - then again we’re talking about a man who thought a “joystick” was some sort of new candy bar. Therefore, I decided to let him use the whitecloak. He happily flitted around the first area for a bit, then I had to give him some instructions on how to move on to the next area.
After the cutscene rolled we entered the next area - the broken bridge. I waited for a fellow companion to appear in anticipation - but was sadly disappointed by the results.
Our first of MANY companions was another whitecloak.
"Who is this guy?" My dad asked doubtfully.
"Just say hello."
I showed him how to chirp a greeting to this new traveler, but the whitecloak simply ignored us and went on his way. Not one to be deterred, I told my father to explore the area, secretly hoping someone else would come by.
Now you must understand, my father’s flying and control over his traveler was awkward at best. He couldn’t use the camera properly and was constantly flying off into nowhere, missing his target completely, or slamming into the walls. If that was not enough evidence to convince someone that this particular whitecloak was a newbie, I don’t know what would.
Soon another whitecloak appeared, this one flew over and happily chirped as he circled my father.
"What do I do now?"
"Follow him" I laughed, happy to have someone he could travel with. My joy was cut short though, as this new companion headed straight for the glitch world, chirping away. I felt bad, but I told my dad to stop following him for fear that he wouldn’t be able to keep up, or get stuck out of bounds. (If you are reading this, fellow whitecloak, I apologize for being rude, On any other day I would have happily followed you out of bounds, we did not ignore you on purpose - I’m sorry)
After that, two more travelers appeared, both of them redcloaks. The first completely ignored us. The second helped my father across the bridge.The second redcloak waited for us to sit with him, and chirped away as he waited for my father to follow him to the desert area.
In the desert, I told my dad to follow the redcloak, telling him nothing else. My dad got lost multiple times, and struggled to keep up with the chirping redcloak. I guess Mr. redcloak got tired of waiting for my dad, because he took off towards the tower and was never seen again.
I helped my dad through the desert and up the tower by pointing to where he should go, at this point my dad’s flying had improved and he made it up all by himself - I was so proud of him.
Another redcloak - this one an experience player - soon joined my dad on top of the tower and we went on to the sandslides together. He didn’t stay long however, as soon as dad fell down into the area where you must activate the fish, he flew away and went on without us. We finished the rest of the sand slide area alone.
We met another redcloak in the underground, but this one also ignored us and went on without us. My father really had a tough time with this area, he couldn’t make it through the area with all the cloth jellyfish and, frustrated, threw away his controller. I calmly got past that area for him and gave the controller back, which he reluctantly accepted. A whitecloak also appeared in the underground - and he ignored us too. Thus my father went on, alone once again, to the trials.
We met a redcloak right from the start, but all he did was chirp once and then stand there, doing nothing. We flew around him, chirping, trying to get some response, but to no avail. after 15 minutes my dad gave up and went on.
I helped my dad a lot with this area, since he became frustrated easily whenever he would fall off or miss his target. I couldn’t help but feel that my dad wasn’t enjoying the game because no one would stick with him or help him. Then, we encountered THE whitecloak.
We were almost up the tower when we saw a faint white glow from offscreen and a whitecloak appeared. He happily chirped and flew in circles around us as we entered the final level. Just before we entered the mountain area - my dad faceplanted by accident. Our new companion rushed over, chirped and flopped onto the ground next to us. My dad burst out laughing - it was the first time I’d seen him smile the whole game.
Our companion chatted nonstop the whole climb up the mountain, showing my dad where to go, and waiting for him to catch up when he fell behind. Eventually though, sleepiness overtook my father, and he asked me to finish the playthrough. I’m sure our companion was very confused when this weird little whitecloak somehow instantly became a pro flyer.
My dad continued to watch (yawning occasionally) while we began our final ascent. He actually scooted forward in his chair as we battled the snowstorm and shouted angrily when we both fell.
"What?! We go all this way and die in a blizzard!"
Then, “What about the other guy? Where did he go? Is he okay?”
He smiled when we met our companion again in the “paradise” area.
"Hey! He’s okay!" He laughed.
He watched in wonder, tiredness forgotten as we flew to the summit, and literally jumped, my 57 year old father actually JUMPED, up out of his chair when our companion drew us not only a heart, but a snow flower as well.
"Look! Look!" He tapped my shoulder (really hard too) "He drew us a flower!!"
Then I witnessed something I haven’t seen since my great-grandmother died.
My father cried.
He openly wept as we went into the light with our new found friend and grabbed the tissue box during the credits.
Today, he asked me to play again sometime, and told me that he really enjoyed the game.
I’m glad my father was able to find at least one companion that he enjoyed playing with, HOWEVER, I am greatly disappointed at the rest of them - ESPECIALLY the whitecloaks. Is this how we, the Journey veterans, are going to treat fellow travelers? Even if they are fellow whitecloaks? I always, always, ALWAYS strive to be a good companion to my fellow Journey-ers - even if they are whitecloaks. You never know when you’ll be doing something life-changing for someone else just by being a good comanion, but what I witnessed last night made me sad, truly.
Fellow whitecloaks, I take this time to ask you to be kind to those you journey with. You never know when you’ll meet a beginner in disguise or if you’ll help someone when they’re having a tough time. I will forever be grateful to the whitecloak that touched my father’s heart - enough to make him cry even, that’s something I have only seen once in my entire 21 years of life. I thank you, with all my heart.