Pros: Beautiful artistic experiences
Cons: Exploration puzzle toys are not for everyone
It doesn't always work of course -- because sometimes what works on paper doesn't translate into a fun experience.
And then sometimes you have works of true Art. Flow, Flower, and Journey are all modern masterpieces.
I was fortunate enough to visit ThatGameCompany back when Journey was in development. I was curious to see how they were going to keep their exploration of minimalism fun after their previous seminal work of art "Flower."
I wouldn't call Journey a game due to that there is no winning condition; by definition it is a toy. A fun toy however. One that doesn't penalize you for exploring. It is impossible to die which means there is no pressure. You go where you want, when you want, where you find interesting. Of course the game directs you but in a subtle way. All the same things holds for "Flower" as well.
The cartoon graphics are beautiful drawn and draw you into the world. The PS3's SPUs are put to good use with the cloth deformation and particle effects.
I could discuss the gameplay of Flow, Flower or Journey but it would be pointless. How do you describe the essence of the experience of seeing a beautiful natural picturesque rest stop?
Dare I say it, Flower and Journey are almost ineffable. And that is why I say they are true digital art forms. There is no UI to distract you. Just you and the world. You won't be able to get far without solving puzzles but that is the beauty. You explore, you solve, you experience.
Not everyone will enjoy exploration puzzles -- but if you want a meditative puzzle -- these two "games" have the soul of perfection woven in them.
Similar puzzle games: Limbo