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 on
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.
 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Top Articles this Month
Dynasty Warriors 9 Review
A once mighty franchise reinvents itself with disappointing results
Posted 3 days ago
Subnautica Review
Posted 16 days ago
Dragon Ball FighterZ Review
Posted 17 days ago
Shadow of the Colossus Review
Posted 22 days ago
Monster Hunter: World Review
Posted 10 days ago
The Red Strings Club Review
Posted 29 days ago
Lost Sphear Review
Posted 20 days ago
Most Anticipated Games of 2018
Posted 24 days ago
BLIK Review
Posted 8 days ago
Latest Comments
Elex Review
Feb 19, 2018 by nutcrackr
The definition for an RPG is broad and complex. Creating...
Dynasty Warriors 9 Review
Feb 19, 2018 by Malky
That's really too bad...
Elex Review
Feb 18, 2018 by Satanschild
I'm sorry to inform everyone...but unless the definition...
Data Pack 3.0 released for PES 2018
Feb 16, 2018 by Oscar Roca
Thanks
Data Pack 3.0 released for PES 2018
Feb 16, 2018 by Neri Obar
yea i guess Valencias official stadium is also added
Advertisement ▼
New Game Network NGN Facebook NGN Twitter NGN Youtube NGN RSS