Almost all game mechanics are essentially metaphors for some out of game counterparts. Yet, some games manage to use their mechanics in more meaningful and powerful ways than others. From invoking emotions to telling stories, this genre of games relies mainly on its mechanics to deliver the intended experience.
Journey, is a stunning game that was built around embedding metaphors into their mechanics. Its designers from That Game Company use its mechanics in clever and meaningful ways to invoke powerful emotions in their players. Journey's other components like its Diegetic Interface and Audio blend seamlessly to enhance the players' experience. Through only implied narrative, Journey successfully guides its players through a cycle of The Hero's Journey, leaving its players begging for more, at the end.
One example of Journey's mechanics is its multiplayer. In journey, the player assumes the role of a nameless, faceless, cloaked traveler, and often, journey connects two random players from across its network. No voice-chats, no chat-boxes, no communication whatsoever, yet the game manages to create a powerful connection between these players just by letting them travel together. Through the game's climax, or out of game events, if these players lose connection, there is no way to reconnect. By severing this short, yet deep bond, journey invokes the strong emotion of Saudade in its players.
It's not always about fun.
Not everyone may be receptive of the message.
The message may be interpreted in multiple ways
This pattern is empirically validated.