Within one minute of playing the PlayStation 4 version of Journey, before the opening credits even came up, I understood that I would never download this game.
I was attending a Sony event, where the company was showing off games that make up its Gamescom push. I put my name down to play the biggies, like Bloodborne and Until Dawn, and I was genuinely excited to see an updated version of Journey.
Back in 2012, I had played thatgamecompany's gentle little exploration-puzzle adventure on PlayStation 3, and I had adored it. Journey is a perfect thing, a magical experience that whispers both inspiring and melancholy notions.
Last year I spoke to Journey's director Jenova Chen. It was clear from talking to him that this was a carefully constructed work of art, that the feelings I and many others encountered during and after play had been summoned with immense forethought and effort.
So why won't I buy Journey on PlayStation 4? What's wrong with the game?
The answer, is nothing.
It is the exact same game as the original, re-presented for a more advanced console, and that is good. Can you imagine if they had tried to add on some extra levels, or thrown in some goofy new challenges? Unthinkable.
The decision to bring the game to a new platform is entirely laudable. Making use of PlayStation 4's capabilities, this game looks crisper, sounds nicer and plays more smoothly. It is presented in 1080p at a target of 60 frames per second.
Early in the game, set in a desert, I climb a dune as a gust of hot wind kicks up golden sand around my character. It feels gorgeous. It reminds me of how much I enjoyed the original.
No doubt, if I compared this moment with the same scene on the PlayStation 3, the visual and audio differences would be firmly obvious. But, outside the realm of YouTube comparative videos, that is not what happens in real life and it is certainly not the point of Journey.
I spent three hours with this game, two years ago and those three hours have taken on a significance as one of my favorite few hours of gaming ever. This is not about fuzzy nostalgia. It is a real and happy recollection. No amount of touch-ups and fidelity tweaks are going to compare with my shining memories.
It becomes obvious to me, playing again for a short time, that I do not wish to try to repeat those few hours. I am not one of those people who enjoys returning to books, movies, TV shows or games, once experienced. Sure, when I was younger, I'd re-watch favorite things, but as I get older, as time takes on a finite definition, the urge has left me. Perhaps I have also learned that to do so, takes something away from the original experience.
Already, just playing a few minutes of Journey on PlayStation 4, I'm reminded that the moment-to-moment playing of the game is not as mystical as the memory of it as a complete thing. That the first time I meet another player in the game is never going to match the joyous original. The nice feeling of the wind is just an echo of that last section of the game, that wraps it all up so satisfactorily.
Even though I won't be downloading this game, I urge you to consider doing so, when it arrives later this year. If you own a PS4 and did not play the original, it is an absolute must. If you did play the original and enjoy returning to great old games, this will not disappoint, especially as it will be available for free to those who bought the PS3 version. And if you are a Journey player who loves to be in the game, communing with others, here is a whole new audience to experience.
The reason I won't be buying Journey on PlayStation 4 is simply because I remember it as one of the best games ever made. To do so, might spoil it for me.