We were intrigued, but - ultimately - got put off by those reviews. They sold it as the gaming equivalent of a New Age crystal shop - a pachuli-scented dreamcatcher of a game, soundtracked by whale song and the palliative burble of indoor mist fountains that look like miniature Thai temples.
This wasn't just a game: this was meditation, a profound and esoteric personal voyage into who we are, a luminous sound bowl ceremony that tapped into the souls of our ancestors, and spoke to the celestial, spiritual being that incubates at the heart of our inner vortex, ready to be unleashed into the cosmos, eclipsing the oppressive physical realm for the enormity of the macrocosmic cloudwibble. In short: it seemed to be a game for hippies.
Unfortunately, now that Journey has made it to the PS4 - buffed and scrubbed to run at 60fps (not that we can ever really tell the difference, to be honest) - and we've played it, we realise that it's virtually impossible to write about in any other way.
Call us insane, but we're going to attempt to set aside Journey's more profound themes for a moment, and describe the game that's at its essence.
You play a mysterious robed figure (mysterious, because we learn nothing about him/her), starting out in a desert, with the ultimate aim of reaching a distant mountain top (at least... we assume this is the aim: you're never really told - you could just stand there, we suppose).
Your journey takes you through frozen tundra, and broken temples, clambering over ruins, and sliding down sand dunes. Your character can fly for short bursts - when coming into contact with the ribbons that whirl through the sky like birds, or wave in the breeze like seaweed fronds, or if meeting another player. You'll only ever really encounter hostility in the form of stone dragons, who appear merely a handful of times. The moment they see you, they attack - and diminish your ability to fly.
It's a simple game that doesn't really fit into any other box: it isn't really a platformer, though that's the closest we'll get to describing it in a familiar way. In fact, there's very little gameplay here at all. You simply explore the areas you find yourself in and press on, seeking out glowing glow-y things to finish each level, and unlock the next.
However, the themes - whether intentional or accidental, we don't know - go deep. It's when you interact with another person (you can only "speak" by emitting chimes), that we struggle to keep to the facts, and start to risk getting all profound and meaningful, maaaan.
Journey is an acutely beautiful game, and it's impossible to speak about beautiful things from a dispassionate place. Somehow, the combination of elements here conspire to go deep.
Journey is a game that puts communication at its heart. The way the game communicates with the player - the way players communicate with one another - are all elegantly minimalist.
There's something primal about it. This is language stripped back to its bare essence: images and action replacing the spoken or written word. Ultimately, there's truth and honesty there: it's our actions that are the most authentic reflection of who we are. What we say can't be trusted. An apology means nothing if you don't show you're sorry. "I love you" is just words, if we don't back it up.
Journey takes the spoken and the written away from us, and what it leaves in its wake is a game that unites players in a genuine, open, and primal way. What it tells us is that, beneath all the rubbish, all the falseness, all the anger, and bitterness, and trolling, and selfishness, and hurt, that outwardly defines us, we crave connection.
It's possible to play Journey entirely alone, but due to the sparseness of its landscapes it can be a harrowing and lonely experience. Finding another soul to share the journey with - huddling together from winds, or cowering behind pillars from the dragons - is where it offers experiences like no other game. We are social animals, and Journey speaks to that.
It can be crushing to realise that your companion has gone, left you, and you are alone once again. On one of our play-throughs, the game crashed, and we felt a deep guilt that for inadvertently abandoning our companion to his or her fate. We wanted to rush back into the game and apologise, and assure them that we hadn't intended to leave. But, of course, there was no guarantee we'd ever meet them again: the people you encounter along the way are anonymous, until the closing credits.
Journey may be short, but it is full of such moments. An exercise in restraint, it manages to say more, and go deeper, by doing less. When you finally learn the nature of your journey - and even that is open to a degree of interpretation - it strikes an optimistic, rarefied note.
For us - and here's where we really risk soaking our faces in the Trough of Pretentiousness - the game is nothing less than a reflection of life. Our existence is a grind, but we push on, striving to rise above the struggle, to find the blue skies, hoping - praying - that we'll meet someone along the way who'll be there with us through it all.
SCORE: Five oms out of five.