15/10/2019

๐Ÿค”๐Ÿฐ Sojourn - REVIEW - "Treguard's Puzzle Palace" ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿค” #IndieGames #GameDev

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Excuse me. Sorry. One moment. I’m just thumbing through a dog-eared dictionary.

Ah, here we are, sandwiched between ‘soixante-neuf’ and ‘solace’. 

Sojourn. A noun meaning ‘a temporary stay’.

There’s certainly an ephemeral flavour to Shifting Tides’ new puzzle game of that name, but such is the difficulty of some levels (controller-snappingly so at times), temporary was not necessarily the word I’d use. 

I over-stayed my patience on a few puzzles, I can tell you. 

After the first few levels, it all appears simple enough. And the beautiful, soothing visuals and sounds are relaxing.  Easing you in, lulling you into a false sense of simplicity. There are only a handful of options before you, after all. A switch or two. Maybe a mystic statue to move. But, and puzzle game aficionados will attest to this, you don’t need many options to make a devilish conundrum.
For those of you old enough to remember it, the look and feel of this game evoked a memory of Knightmare and Crystal Maze (Richard O’Brien era rather than Richard Ayoade, natch). Each level opens up in a different room or scene. As you enter, the floor and walls materialise in front of you, as if you’re in some kind of computer game (spooky). 

Your task each time is to reach a door. What stands in your way are bridges, barriers, switches and statues. What seems simple at first quickly descends into the diabolical as the combinations available soon get dizzying in number.

Strangely though, the whole experience manages to be, on the whole, a relaxing one.  The pastel shades and calm soundtrack mean that the game world is a pleasure to inhabit, even as you make one slight error that undoes all your hard work and means you go back to the start of the level AGAIN.
What sets this aside from other games of this genre is the imaginative use of light and dark (you temporarily step into a parallel ‘dark realm’ to access different areas) as well as some lilting music that reminded me of Zelda’s ocarina riffs.

The only element that fails to hit the mark is the ‘plot’, an attempt at a story told through statues in various tableaux that are dull and bear no relevance to the tasks in hand. Because they don’t affect the gameplay, however, you can just ignore them. 

The longevity of the game’s appeal will very much depend on how much of a puzzler you are. I can’t see it having crossover appeal as it is very pure in its gameplay. 

Each level is totally logical and beatable, even if a little (or a lot) of trial and error is sometimes required. For those who enjoy a real brain-scratching, mind-melter however, are in for a treat.

The Sojourn is out now on PS4 and Xbox
❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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