Once a Whitecloak, always a Whitecloak
So much for my self-imposed rule about not picking up the symbols unless another player showed them to me.
I just finished my first (new) playthrough of Journey. The first thing I noticed when I began playing in the hub was how… laborious the movement almost felt. The inability to fly as a Whitecloak made me feel heavy, slow and frustrated. It was not an altogether unwelcome reminder of what it is like to be a Redcloak, however. I imagine now I will be less inclined to take the ease of a Whitecloak scarf for granted.
My newfound Redcloak mindset didn’t last for long however. I met my first companion almost immediately in the Threshold level. The moment I saw their bare cloak, identical to mine, all notions of taking an aloof, scientific approach to the game went out of the window.
Hence the title.
I led my new friend to each of the symbols in the first level, as well as the glyph wall beneath the sand waterfall, and then we rebuilt the bridge, taking turns to light up the ribbons. They were very talkative, always chirping. I tried to be as talkative in return. As a Whitecloak I always took a quieter approach to teaching others, chirping only to reply, fly or gently encourage them. As a Redcloak I tried to recapture some of that enthusiasm for singing that I had during my first playthroughs. It wasn’t easy but I think I succeeded.
In the coral desert I showed my friend the eastern symbol and the flower, as well as the two glyph walls and the symbol on the western tower. Shortly after this however, they flew off towards one of the ruins we’d already visited. I waited on a dune for them to return, but they did not. I went to investigate and arrived just in time to see them disintegrate into sand.
I sat for a while, waiting for another partner. I didn’t have to wait long. A secondcloak turned up swiftly. My partnership with him was a short one. I let him take the lead, following him to the symbol on the broken tower and onwards to the end of the level. I also followed him to the final symbol of the level, but at this point he began jumping off of the tower and flying around. I got the impression that he wasn’t interested in my company - perhaps not interested in the responsibility of a firstcloak - and so I left him behind, completeing the level alone.
The road of trials is my favourite level in the game. The rush of sliding down the sands is easily as exhilerating as flying through the final level. However, I spent the level alone. I ignored all of the symbols and glyph walls and hurried through the level with little to no fanfare.
I spent the first half of the underground alone as well, forgoing the first three symbols in that area for later playthroughs. I half expected to face the war machines alone - a depressing prospect as a firstcloak - and planned to allow the war machines to attack me, just once. Going theough the underground for the first time, unscathed, with no guide seemed wrong somehow. However, as I made my way down the corridor leading the the hall where we first see the war machine, a new firstcloak materialised beside me. We chirped to one another and I instantly slid back into my Whitecloak persona. I took the lead, gently guiding my obviously nervous new friend through the underground safely, showing her the glyph wall and the final symbol in the area.
In the water tower, I guided my companion to each of the glyph walls and the symbols, returning to her side whenever she struggled with the platforms to chirp encouragement at her. She followed me with a surprising amount of trust, though I suppose it’s possible that she simply didn’t know what the embroideries meant yet. We danced across the wall and raced across the ribbon bridges, and when the tower was full I took her down to see the Flow creature.
She left me at the beginning of the next level, after chirping her goodbyes. I carried on without her, using the dead cloth creatures to warm myself for the first time. I spotted a third firstcloak up ahead and chirped to him but he didn’t hear me immediately. I hurried after him and intercepted him at the windy valley. Unlike other new players I’ve encountered, he seemed to grasp the concept of staying with the stones very quickly, though his habit of standing on the wrong side of them was… unique.
This new companion was a lively one and I appreciated his seemingly excitable nature. When we reached the other end of the windy valley I watched curiously as he stopped at a few of the grave markers and chirped, as though acknowledging them. It was something I’d considered doing myself, but never had until this point. I joined him in paying our respects to the fallen wayfarers before continuing on our way.
His scarf was already short, so when we were attacked by a war machine on the snow field almost as soon as we set foot there, he was left with nothing more than a stump of fabric. I stuck close to him though, chirping to get him know when it was safe to run, and we made it safely across the snow field with no more unfortunate incidents.
As I suspect is the case with all new wayfarers, upon our arrival in paradise my companion became very excited, chirping rapidly and flying ahead at full speed. At one point, in his excitement, he lost all of his scarf’s energy and got stuck at the bottom of a cliff. After I rescued him, we went on. I tried my best to keep an eye on him and not get separated, but I find that is difficult enough with calm companions who are actively trying to stay with you. We were separated and so I flew on, making it to the summit first to wait for him. No one should finish their first journey alone.
He did show up eventually and we drew hearts in the snow together, danced and chirped before finally heading into the light side by side. After the credits rolled we messaged and added one another.
And I have learned, from my second first time, that one does not simply shed the Whitecloak, no matter the colour of one’s fabric.