Review: The Sojourn

A world of light and darkness, a journey, a puzzle. After nearly four years of working on the title, developer Shifting Tides has finally released its mysterious puzzle game The Sojourn

sojourn

noun

so·​journ | \ ˈsō-ˌjərn  , sō-ˈjərn\

: a temporary stay

A blend of mystery and brain-teasers, The Sojourn takes the player to a desolate, yet picturesque world little is known about. As it is a first-person puzzle game, the nature of the player themselves remains a mystery as well. A handful of statues scattered across the world – which seem to shed a light on a strange, ritualistic form of life – are quite peculiar. When encountering these statues, the player is given a glimpse into the game’s bewildering narrative.

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Guided by lights, the player must always search for strange floating balls of light, and text scrolls containing an ominous sentence about life, death, and such subjects. Of course, that’s where the challenges come in. To reach these balls and scrolls, the player has to manoeuvre their way through the area. Easier said than done. There are two worlds the player has to switch between to reach the finish line, and they are as different as night and day, literally. In this strange place, there is both a world of light and a world of darkness. And the player has to continuously jump from one to the other, because certain passages are only passable in the dark world, while obstacles such as thorny bushes are not bugging the player in the world of light. More often than not, the player has to find a way to cleverly stay in one world, or to quickly switch dimensions.

The colour-soaked world of The Sojourn, with its floating villages and radiant flora, is as beautiful as it can get. Its pastel colour palette in combination with an often spotless sky assist to the enchanting feel of the puzzler. The mystical soundtrack adds another layer to the evergrowing divinity of the game. Honestly, it’s just beautiful to look at and it feels light, all the while still shedding a light on the deeper, more philosophical part of life. It’s a fun, beautifully crafted, little game.

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At its core, The Sojourn is still a puzzle game. As the story progresses, new attributes are introduced and puzzles tend to get more challenging. While the first few puzzles can be completed easily, later levels require much more brainpower. And the puzzles get difficult fast. Initially, the player can only switch places with a statue whilst in the dark world. Several levels later, however, the player will have to activate harps to cross bridges or rotate tunnel-beaming statues that allow you to move through the world of darkness. The player may also pick up a shiny green relic that can be placed in each of these statues, It’s up to the player to continuously play with this dimension-shifting ability and encover the correct order in which the different steps have to be taken. Some of the puzzles are frustratingly complicated, yet the relief and rewarding feeling you experience when you finally do finish a challenge, are out of this world. Puzzle-loving gamers will undoubtedly be satisfied with the enigmas The Sojourn has to offer.

This puzzle was easy to solve: The Sojourn takes the player on a compelling journey across enchanting landscapes, and introduces a wide range of complex puzzles. Shifting Tides’ debut is a good one, that’s for certain.  

Rating: 9/10

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Developer: Shifting Tides

Publisher: Iceberg Interactive

Price: €21,99

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