The month of October is special to Americans and Internet goers everywhere. It’s the month of Halloween and spooks. I like most of the internet was getting myself excited for Halloween. The problem is that I’m in Sweden and as such they don’t really celebrate Halloween as much as the United States.
I came to Sweden as an exchange student on August 1st from Minnesota and I’ve been living in Stockholm since and it has been a wonderful time. I mean I’ve gone through some REALLY depressed periods but we’re here to talk about video games. Mostly.
So at the start of October Sony had a little thing inspired by Slim Jim or something where if you spent 100 USD on the PS store you’d get 15 USD credit in the PS store. Well I have a PSVita I very much love and my PS4 gets a fair amount of use so I thought it a good deal. I wanted to get games for credit but it being Halloween I wanted to find a scary game to play on Halloween night. But me being the cheap guy I am wanted to get the cheaper games or things on sale.
Started the month good with Citizens of Earth for 5 USD and I love Earthbound and I like Citizens of Earth so far. It wasn’t a scary game but I have wanted it for a while so it was a worthwhile purchase. Sadly that was the only game on sale that week. Lacking cheap scary games I focused on Sweden more.
As the month went on I learned more about how Swedes celebrate Halloween. There are two days of celebration. Obviously there’s the 31st but they have another day sometime in October were they celebrate. On one they get sad and decorate graves. On the other kids go trick or treating and party. I’m not specifying which is which because I honestly don’t know. No one here knows.
Pictured: a Swede unsure on which day to mourn.
On about the 16th I was walking around town and saw some children in costumes running about. When I asked my Swedish friend if today was the celebratory trick or treating day they shruged and told me they didn’t know. I was really curious about it. I also relentlessly mocked them for having two separate days for mourning and celebrating. Mexican pride for Dia De Los Muertos and all that not that my family celebrates it that much anyway.
No what I was really interested in was going to a cemetery and getting sad. I was with some other exchange students in a cemetery a few months ago but they were all getting drunk and I was watching them make fools of themselves. But that planted the seed that blossomed into me wanting to be nostalgic and mourn the dead in October despite knowing none of the bodies buried here.
Back to video games I got some more games that went on sale. Lone Survivor and Metro Redux to get me thoroughly into the spooky spirit for Halloween. I have played Lone Survivor for a bit a while ago with a friend but couldn’t get into it but I wanted to give it another try. I did like parts of it. As for Metro Redux it was thoroughly tense and the right kinda survival horror I like but I had issues with it. I’m probably going to write a more thorough review of it later I think.
But while I played through the entirety of Metro 2033 I couldn’t get back into Lone Survivor. They were definitely both scary and tense but didn’t feel right for the game I wanted to spook out to on Halloween.
As I was searching for a game to spook out to I learned a bit more about Swedish Halloween. Well there are the two days and on the mourning one they all go to cemeteries and decorate graves with candles and the like. The regular affair but nice no less. I still wanted to get sad and mourn but at about this time my significant other and I broke up. It was a whole mess and suffice to say dampened my mood. My urge to get sad at a cemetery intensified.
Luckily the day after we broke up another the Play Station Store had a Sale of The Dead thing. More video games to get to that 100 USD. I got White Night to try and get me into the scary mood. It was a very nice looking game and the atmosphere was very tense and nice and I did really like it. It didn’t quite hook me though. Not enough to want to play through Halloween.
The last week of October is Höstlov in Sweden which is fall break and as such I didn’t have any classes. More video games went on sale and the important purchases I made in that round were the ZombiU re-release titled Zombi and Journey as I had been meaning to buy that game since it was released on PS3. I needed to get that 100 USD limit and I’d wanted Journey for so long that I made an exception.
On the actual day of Halloween I went to the Stockholm Comic Con Gamex. After the con I was gonna stay up all night with a friend spooking out to video games for Halloween. After the con my friend went home as they were much too tired to spook out. I get home and try and get spooked alone. I start playing Zombi at 11 when I get home and although I’m thoroughly hooked it isn’t enough to keep me awake after a long day. I fall asleep unfulfilled by Halloween wishing I had had a good spooky time or at least mourned the dead at a cemetery.
This morning I woke up late and after some short errands I sat down and played some more video games. Today was a lazy Sunday and so I wanted to relax and play some games. Thinking that since I have no obligations to enjoy it anymore I would enjoy it more and I mean I wasn’t wrong. I played it for a few hours and I really liked it but it still didn’t hook me. But then I started to play Journey and it was exactly what I needed.
The game is deeply engrossing and beautiful. It handles artfully and it’s just an experience that can’t be explained really. Playing as the cloaked character jumping around with an ever growing scarf looking at the remnants of our character’s lost civilisation. Artful platforming through our civilisation looking at the inscriptions of it all on our adventure to the falling star. It’s a very memorable journey and it’s beautiful but to me specifically I think it marks the game that made my Halloween.
The entire month I spent searching for a cemetery and to get all sad with. What I needed all along was a game about looking at our past and experiencing hardships to get our goals whatever they be. Enlightenment and ascension or getting to the 100 USD for some in store credit.
Throughout the game I was joined by two people. The first was near the beginning after the first gate. We worked together to make sure our power was at full so we could glide around and we helped figure out where we had to go. It took us a while and some difficult to make out teamwork but I felt a real genuine bond with them. Then we went on what was arguably the best section of the game.
That fucking sliding level
We slid down the slopes gliding with our scarf friends and made our way down together. I went faster and reached the bottom first but I waited. When they got down we chirped with joy at each other. We went down another section where they got there first and then waited for me. We were the perfect duo. We went underground into an almost sealike area that mesmerised me with its blue hue. We slowly traversed even more ruins but before long they left.
I managed alone for a while in the harsher level with the sleeping dragons. I think it’s strangely allegorical to the game that I had to play through the tense level alone. The dragon section is the only time in the game where you are punished really. If you try and stray from the path the wind pushes you back and later on the mountain the wind only pushes you back a bit. But here if the dragons spot you, you lose half your scarf. I barely scrounged past that level with any scarf left. But by the time I reached the mountain another had joined me. Similarly allegorical to the game in this level of hardship wading through the snow wind blowing against me I saw a glimmer of hope.
The moon was full and guiding me to the tower I needed to go to and I saw another in the crevice of two mountains. I chirped rapidly trying to get their attention and after minutes of wading past to catch up I got to them. They were more self-centered and didn’t help me as much but I was patient and helped them past an oddly timed section of the mountain and we were on our way.
The rest of the game was a delightful breeze I mostly played alone. I won’t write about it as it would butcher the experience really. I’ve already butchered so much.
Journey is one of the best most beautiful games I’ve played on PS4. It was one of the best PS3 games as well. Just shows that you need to come to me if you wanna hear me reassure that a game everyone knows is great from 2012 is still great. But despite that Journey is a special reminiscent mourning Halloween game. Thank you Journey.