Gamers have come to accept the notion that in video games, satisfaction and frustration are inseparable, like yin and yang. Journey to Wild Divine, though, appeals to the need for peace and relaxation instead of the drive to slay near-invincible dragons.
Unlike other games, the object is not to jump through hoops and over hurdles set before you, but to master the flow of energy within yourself. Rather than getting your adrenaline going, this game attempts to educate its players in the technique of biofeedback. To the uninitiated, biofeedback is a term for making involuntary physiological processes (such as the heartbeat and brain waves) perceptible, thus allowing greater control over them. Using a specially designed USB device that measures the skin conductance level of your index, middle, and ring fingers, you must control your own physical and mental state in order to progress through the game.
One early challenge shows a bellows stoking a flame inside a chimney. The player must relax and synchronize his or her breath with the contractions and expansions of the bellows. If it is done properly, the fire will grow. If not, the fire will quickly die out. Although an imaginative element is present, the main purpose of such challenges is to master biofeedback and other meditative techniques, with the ultimate goal of regulating your body functions and achieving physical, mental, and spiritual balance.
Aside from some mouse clicks, most of the input comes from the USB "Light Stone" energy translator that is included with the game. The device had finger clasps (or "Magic Rings") attach to three fingers on either hand; the player provides input to the game simply by having them on. When taken together, the spiritual look and feel, the ancient concepts, and the innovative controls all adds up to an experience that transcends gaming as we have come to know it.
I didn't run into any bugs, but the game program itself feels a little rough and unpolished. Considering the time and effort that must have gone into developing the USB device, I can't help but wonder how cool this game might have been if this game's developers had invested a little more into the game itself. Overall, though, the game is quite is entertaining and enlightening, two things that many games try and fail to achieve. After playing for nearly two hours, I had learned a few new ways to meditate, and I found the experience highly enjoyable. It is a fun way to pass the time, just like a good game should be. It's also an interesting way to learn something new, just like a handful of great games have been.
Unlike other worthy games though, I did not walk away from the computer feeling pumped-up; I felt totally relaxed.
This software was reviewed on the remarkable QBox-NF3B gaming PC made by Polywell Computers. The Polywell Ice Cube is equipped with an Athlon 64 bit 3.2 GHz CPU, which will make any game an awesome experience. It also has two 1G sticks of DDR 400 RAM from the great people at Gigaram. The video card is an nVidia G-Force FX 5900 with 128 Megs of cached RAM, which is one of the top 3D graphics rendering cards available on the market today. The OS is Windows XP Pro + sp1+ latest updates. Polywell Computers has really outdone them selves putting this screaming game box together, so if you get a chance to get your hands on one too, don't pass it up.