by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
A JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
Shifting Tide’s new game, The Sojourn, isn’t your regular fish. On the face it looks like most other puzzle games, you progress through a world by facing series after series of puzzles, like Portal say. But when I got play some of The Sojourn at Gamescom 2018, I noticed that what makes it stand out is the world. It’s more comparable to Journey than anything else, a beautiful and pure array of stunning vistas, seasons and grand buildings. As you walk amongst them, structures form around you, blocks flying into place in an almost Inception like style. This plays upon the fact that The Sojourn’s world is a largely metaphysical place; it’s four chapters, varying areas and structures representing a journey through life.
LIFE IS TOUGH
But life is tough and underneath the purity of the world lie shadows, corrupting influences that the player will have to overcome and banish if they wish to progress on their journey. This links with The Sojourn’s most unique puzzle mechanic; the dark world. So the dark world is a parallel world which you enter and draw power from, allowing you to access the four sources of power. These sources of power are unnamed, but they allow you to perform a variety of actions that aid you in solving puzzles; swapping your location with a statue for example, or allowing you to power objects that are lifeless otherwise.
There are also obstacles in the dark world, such as barriers, that don’t exist in the real world. Ergo most puzzles are solved via a combo of dark world and real world. I’m no stranger to puzzle games, having played a lot of Portal and Portal 2, but I had to work hard to learn how the worlds interacted and to solve the puzzles. It definitely adds a good deal of freshness to the classic puzzle formula.
The Sojourn’s world is an intriguing place; beautiful to look at and the metaphysical representations can often be quite interesting. There is going to be a narrative as well, following and narrating the story of a family and I am really curious to see how the corrupting influences manifest in that narrative. On the whole, The Sojourn is shaping up to be a really fresh puzzler. Provided focus is maintained on using the dark world to keep the puzzles interesting, and the game doesn’t end up lost in its own allegories, there will a lot to enjoy. Look to see The Sojourn in 2019.