Over the course of this console generation we’ve been treated to some pretty good first-person puzzle games. Titles like The Witness, The Talos Principle, Q.U.B.E. 2 and others have all been pretty great in their own ways. If you’ve been in the mood for another one you may be glad to know that publisher Iceberg Interactive and developer Shifting Tides have created their own take on the genre called The Sojourn. Can it offer a puzzling good time like some of those other titles did?
Upon first glance The Sojourn’s art style will remind you a lot of a game like The Witness but it is actually quite different on the game design front. The Sojourn is full of challenges and puzzles that require you to jump between two different worlds, one of light and one of dark. The story is one that kind of lets you interpret on your own as you play through it rather than a clearly defined one. Sometimes this is done well but in the case of this game I just didn’t feel very drawn into it and by the end didn’t really understand what exactly was going on. The world is beautiful though and full of interesting sights such as ruins, eerie towers and so on. The light and dark worlds I spoke of are tied directly to how you solve pretty much every puzzle in this game. You’ll have to travel back and forth between them by stepping into a flame but you only have a certain amount of steps you can take in the dark world before you’re kicked out. A bar is displayed on screen and it decreases with every step you take. If it runs out you are kicked out and you’ll have to try again.
When you jump into the dark world you find interesting statues that you’ll be able to swap places with. This is key to solving many of the puzzles and as you progress more and more mechanics build themselves on top of it. Since you can only take so many steps here before being returned to the light world swapping places with the statues allows you to travel distance without using up those valuable steps. You’ll be able to get past many obstacles in your way by doing this. Then you’ll have to learn how to use energy beams and duplicators to solve more puzzles later on. Then there is a relic that you obtain that lets you use certain objects without needing to be in the dark world. All you have to do is insert the relic into them. The game introduces new mechanics at a good pace I felt although it seemed like it ran out of ideas later on in the game.
Much like any puzzle game how fast you get through it will depend on how long you spend on each puzzle. Some of them were quite easy for me to figure out while others had me stumped for quite some time. I spent a good amount of time on one a bit later in the game before I got frustrated and left it. The next day I came back to it and somehow figured it out within within a few minutes. I wish they were balanced a bit better where I wouldn’t breeze through one, solve a really difficult one, and then get hit with another easy one but maybe I just wasn’t smart enough, who knows. The game is quite meaty though and you can easily spend 12+ hours seeing everything the main story and optional challenges have to offer. The game has a Platinum trophy on PlayStation too and you’ll have to complete all of those optional challenges if you want to earn it.
The Sojourn never failed to impress me visually and despite some grievances with the puzzles they were enjoyable to work through and solve for the most part. The underlying story didn’t really draw me in but that’s OK because the world design did. If you enjoy these types of games you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck in The Sojourn.
*The Sojourn is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.