RSS Feeds NGN on Facebook NGN on Twitter NGN on YouTube
Welcome, Guest. Login | Register | PW? ]
Header logo

Ambiguous Exposition: Mass Effect 3 and Journey


A look at the juxtaposition of the narrative designs found in two recent releases

Posted by Matthew Sawrey (matski53) on Mar 28, 2012 - 11:23pm EST (Mar 28, 2012 23:23)

Oh narrative, narrative, wherefore art thou narrative?” pondered a wandering, introspective, maroon cloth shrouded silhouette as it traversed the lonely dunes of a vast desert. “Over here, pretentious!” replied the ballsy, bull-headed, N7 armour suited space marine: ‘Sheeplover’ Shepard (my personal commander’s name). And so begins the fan fiction conversation between the protagonists of Thatgamecompany’s Journey and Bioware’s Mass Effect 3 within my head…

For two titles released within a week of each other, they couldn’t have more opposite approaches towards weaving the delicate tapestry that is an interactive narrative. Both are action adventure titles, taking mechanics, structures and ideas from others and moulding them into their own experience. Journey integrates light platforming with visual cues to aid progression and Mass Effect 3 employs a science-fiction twist on Gears of War-style cover shooting with an abundance of dialogue. In addition, both send a central hero on a monumental task of life threatening danger and bravery, but the similarities end there when you begin to consider their diametrically opposed approaches to storytelling.
 
Journey PS3

One is a hinted tale awash with ambiguity and personal interpretation, and the other a well-defined fiction of choice and consequence detailed by reams of exposition. They are both titles at the forefront of videogame narrative design, but in what dimensions are they so different? Does each succeed where the other fails? Many would undoubtedly go as far as to claim that Journey doesn’t truly have a narrative beyond ‘Silent traveler climbs big mountain to reach shiny thing at top’, which is perhaps a valid point should you examine it solely at face value. However there are many others (including myself) who would vehemently oppose such an opinion.
 
Mass Effect 3

Throughout its length Journey is peppered with vagueness. It is entirely wordless, the characters are expressionless puppets and its MacGuffin is an ever-present mystery looming in the distance. This is evident even within its more common narrative devices. The cutscenes depict the near past, present, and future of your adventure, like the ghosts of "A Christmas Carol" all rolled into one, while its lands are littered with 8-bit stylized cave paintings of events, though nothing is ever fully explained. Progression in Journey is never far away from a metaphor, a mythical monument, or a suggestive artifact.

Where it succeeds is in balancing this ambiguity on the teetering edge of bewilderment. Its mechanics and structure raise such a myriad of questions, that by answering them with suggestions rather than definitives, it invites your imagination to run wild. We know the goal is to reach the gleaming beam of light at the summit of this mountain, but for what purpose? We learn how to invigorate the floating cloth creatures with our voice, but what are they and why do they help us? There are so many who’s, what’s, where’s, and why’s left after Journey finishes that you cannot help but inquisitively ponder.
 

Interaction
Share
Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Most viewed this Month
Divinity: Original Sin Review


Posted 11 days ago by with_teeth26
Comments (0)

GRID Autosport Review
Posted 18 days ago by nutcrackr

Sniper Elite 3 Review
Posted 24 days ago by SpectralShock

Company of Heroes 2: The Western...
Posted 23 days ago by with_teeth26

Transformers: Rise of the Dark S...
Posted 30 days ago by joshywa

Valiant Hearts: The Great War Re...
Posted 16 days ago by Al-man

Magicians & Looters Review
Posted 20 days ago by Quill

Armillo Review
Posted 14 days ago by AesopB3EF

Wayward Manor Review
Posted 12 days ago by MattPorter

Infinity Runner Review
Posted 8 days ago by Quill
Last 3 Months Platform
PS4
1. Dying Light Preview - ...
Type: Preview
Author: joshywa

XONE
2. Middle-earth: Shadow o...
Preview



PS4
5. Skylanders Trap Team P...
Preview




MISC
9. Best Games of E3 2014
Feature

PS4
10. Watch Dogs Review
Review
Latest Comments
Electronic Arts...
Jul 29, 2014 by propyl21
a free back catalogue,...
propyl21

Electronic Arts...
Jul 29, 2014 by Reliant
What I think is smart about this...
Reliant

Electronic Arts...
Jul 29, 2014 by JamesJay
This is actually a fantastic...
JamesJay

Electronic Arts...
Jul 29, 2014 by jaze
DROPPING BOMBS!!!!
jaze

The Sims 2 Ultimate...
Jul 24, 2014 by JamesJay
Old game but a classic,...
JamesJay

Advertisement ▼
pfooter
Advertisement ▼