Journey



Pro: Truly beautiful music that lets you float along
Con: Absolutely nothing
The Bottom Line: Video game music is fun, to be sure, but never before have I been so struck by it as I was with this.
Journey was made by the same folks who developed Flower, and similar to Flower, there is a linear gameplay that does include an end, but it’s…softer. You don’t worry about weapons or fighting bad guys. You have one goal, and unless you just straight stop playing the game, I don’t think there’s any way for you to not reach that goal.
There are only 18 tracks but you get 58 minutes of delight, and I’m happy to add that no tracks drop below 1 minute.
1. Nascence - 1:47
2. The Call - 3:39
3. First Confluence - 1:40
4. Second Confluence - 2:20
5. Threshold - 6:05
6. Third Confluence - 1:40
7. The Road of Trials - 4:16
8. Fourth Confluence - 1:07
9. Temptations - 4:13
10. Descent - 2:40
11. Fifth Confluence - 1:23
12. Atonement - 6:11
13. Final Confluence - 2:06
14. The Crossing - 1:58
15. Reclamation - 2:16
16. Nadir - 3:37
17. Apotheosis - 7:07
18. I Was Born for This - 4:41
I first watched someone play this online and I was awed by its simplicity, its beauty, and of course, its music. It makes me think of Tibetan temples. It’s just…really...beautiful in the purest form of the word is the only way I can truly describe this music. You can sit and listen to it in the background easily, but if you actually take the time to sit down and indulge in every note – this soundtrack is something special.
In fact, Austin Wintory’s work on Journey earned him a Grammy nominee for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media. Someone must have been paying attention that day in order to even give him the nomination because video games go horribly ignored in the wider world of music. Fact in point – this was the first time a video game soundtrack has been nominated for a Grammy. A shame. But then again those high and mighty Hollywood types never do know what’s really good. But I digress.
The music itself uses a lot of low woodwinds, harps, violins, and the main character, drifting cello. For his composition, he used the cello as a sort of centerpiece and wound the other instruments around it. This is much clearer during the gameplay, as the music was designed to change and evolve as the player progressed rather than simply having a looping song (we still love you, Mario). For us, we get the “important pieces” to make up this soundtrack. Each track has a bit of its own personality, though they still blend together seamlessly, working along the same vein in order to match the game. One of the best parts is that what you hear isn’t just electronically created – these are real instruments recorded in a live setting.
For the most part the CD is uplifting, occasionally quick and playful, but it does contain its darker parts, such has with “Descent,” or the heavy and dramatic “Nadir.” You even get lyrics with the final song, “I Was Born for This,” which flows perfectly with the rest of the soundtrack.
My favorites are “The Road of Trials” as I cannot help but think of that stunning sequence of the little character sliding across shimmering gold sand in the burning light of the sun, and the uplifting, nonstop hopeful creation that is “Apotheosis.” Especially that little spot right at the 3:15 mark.
If you are a fan of soundtracks, then you really, really need to listen to this one. Right now. You’ll thank me later.
NT

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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.