Journey UI & UX Analysis

Journey PS4 Screenshot [Source]

Journey is a notable example for my research as the UI is so successful through the lack of UI (similar also to Monument Valley). Innovative methods of interaction and giving feedback to the player are employed to heighten the experience.

The game communicates changes in state and provides feedback to the player’s action within the context of the game rather than laying them over the top in the form of GUI elements. For example, the length of the player’s scarf communicates the player’s health.

  1. Collect glowing symbols to increase the length of your scarf
  2. The scarf grants the power to fly, but using it gradually drains this power
  3. See the amount of flight that is left by how many symbols are on the scarf

Above is an example of giving the player meaningful feedback, in a Diegetic and immersive way. The game does this throughout. Another example is how when two players are nearby one another, their scarf will glow and is charged due to the proximity of the other player.

“Glowing symbols and glyphs are tracked in the chapter select area. In the chapter buildings, the glyphs that you have found will light up, showing you in which chapters you are missing them, except for one in the introductory chapter. The glowing symbols are tracked in total off to the side of the buildings, but you will need to reach the end of a chapter to see how many you’ve collected out of the total for that chapter by the number of lit up symbols in front of the altar where you receive your vision.”

The player can check which symbols they have collected by actually looking at the environment of the game.

The glyphs you have found will light up on the chapter buildings. This replaces the need for graphical progress bars and similar HUD elements. It allows the player to feel that their progress is more intertwined with the game’s world, the story and environment. It increases the sense of agency that the player has – they can see their progression directly influencing and altering the outcome of their environment and its role in the world. Their choices and gameplay are reflected in the world they explore. The lack of these graphical/HUD/UI elements also adds to the mysterious, unknown atmosphere of the game. This is fairly crucial in allowing the game to succeed in the way that it was intended to. It allows the game to set and portray the tone that is intended.

The game provides absolutely minimal information on how to play, the story and your goals

The ‘Start’ screen

The only information the player receives regarding the control scheme [Source]

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