Title: The Sojourn
Developer: Shifting Tides
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 20/09/19
Price: £17.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Enter the land of Shadows and Light
The Sojourn is probably one of the best puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. It reminds me of the original Portal in terms of puzzle difficulty and first-person viewpoint, but the beautifully crafted visuals that accompany games like Monument Valley. Every detail is beautiful, and it’s easy to look outside of the puzzle platform as you traverse this world.
You enter this unknown land (void of a body), with a wisp (light) guiding you through the stages and the story. You are introduced immediately to a beautifully bright, artsy/HDR looking world, with striking shadows and crisp lines. Then proceed to follow the light into a room, where statues take form and begin to tell a story of birth and joy. This is how the story unfolds, The Sojourn’s central theme is told visually through these dioramas, with no vocal acting.
To progress through the story, you complete levels that pose specific challenges, as you try to traverse the scenery to free the light, using the objects around you. These objects come in many forms, but some require activation from within the darkness. Stepping into the flame gives you a finite time in the dark world, from here, you can activate statues, harps, light mirrors and more. There are brambles, bridges, gates, alternating elevations, and an eye!
This is where this game is excellent; you move between light and darkness, creating pathways with tunnels, or removing brambles that only appear in the darkness. You’re tested to the limit on what works where and how mistiming something can change the whole process.
To simplify it a little more, you have to think outside the box, each piece has a purpose and some are used more than once. Often I found myself doubling back in the light and dark to change a mirror, or switch with a statue.
I also found some levels easy, but others I racked my brain for ages trying to figure things out, you find yourself backtracking and in some instances resetting the challenge. I’m sure some of them I found a more straightforward, unconventional method, but that’s the joy of a puzzle game I suppose!
After collecting the light at the end of each puzzle, you can then do the bonus part to win a merit. There are 46 in all, and they aren’t always easy. These appear in the same level after the light is released.
This game is beautiful. I often found myself looking around the puzzle at the surroundings, and nothing has been overlooked. For a non-AAA title, this game has had love put into its visuals and score. I can’t recall how many screenshots I took in-game, I wish there was a photo mode, specifically with the dioramas, they looked incredible, the colours are vibrant and rich, the lighting is sharp, and the soundtrack is soft but purposeful.
The only nitpick I would have is at one point there is a pool of water that splashes when you enter it, and that’s the only audible queue, as there are no footsteps otherwise, it’s just a little daunting.
Discovery and Beyond
This game is a story of discovery, of a first journey into the world. The Sojourn is wrapped in philosophical quotes and challenges the normality of the world. It dares to be different, to not follow the path laid out in society as expected to and for you to forge your way.
With everything happening in Hong Kong right now, it’s a fitting reflection of how fighting for something you believe in can be a compelling story, but one of struggle and sacrifice too.
To appreciate and understand more where the Developers are coming from, I think having challenged your upbringing or societal norms can have a significant impact on what you take away here.
However, the game is also uplifting and motivational. Like many stories, there’s something that will resonate with us all in this one.
The Sojourn is one of the few games I’ve platinumed on the first run, and that doesn’t often happen unless I’m engaged with the game.
Sure, it’s frustrating when you don’t figure a puzzle, but that’s the whole point of a puzzle, right?
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase The Sojourn from the PlayStation Store on the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP3652-CUSA13943_00-THESOJOURNXXXXXX
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.