The Sojourn
Developer Shifting Tides
Publisher Iceberg Interactive
Official site thesojourngame.com
release date September 2019
Genre Puzzle

Puzzle games are not a particularly popular genre, but they have their own audience. And some of these projects, exploiting the theme of riddles and manipulations with objects, successfully grow into something big and outstanding, turning into an interesting, intense adventure. Another experiment in this field is The Sojourn.

The Sojourn

Having a pretentious intricate name, the game from the first minutes hints at some philosophical overtones, showing statues depicting a young couple with a child.

The Sojourn

This is followed by an introduction showing the basics of interacting with local puzzles. It all starts with the basics and primitive actions, but gradually the game enters the main rhythm, where individual puzzles turn into a real test of ingenuity.

The Sojourn

All plot subtext is quickly reduced to a minimum. There is a certain story here, but it is presented in the form of silent scenes with frozen figures. The game does not involve us in what is happening, trying to portray mystery. And separate notes with philosophical or pseudo-philosophical statements do not make the storyline more clear and tangible.

The Sojourn

The main thing here is puzzles. The whole game comes down to the fact that you solve the puzzle at one stage, open the door and move on to a new puzzle. Initially, there is a feeling of moving forward in this, but then the same type of premises and movement to trials through portals begin. And without a sense of movement towards a certain goal, individual game stages look boring.

The Sojourn

But the tasks will definitely not make you bored. We play from a first-person perspective, manipulating certain objects to open the way to the coveted exit. Each level has different obstacles and objects with which you need to overcome obstacles. The key element is the division of reality into two states. There is an ordinary state and a dark world in which initially invisible objects materialize — a bridge over an abyss, etc. Also, the second state allows you to activate special statues, which is not available in ordinary reality.

The Sojourn

The first stages are tied to the movement of statues with which you can change places. Having received a charge and turned on the dark world mode, we castling with the statue and thus overcome some kind of obstacle. Using this method, the statue gradually moves to the right place until the last transition is obtained. It sounds simple, but the presence of walls that restrict visibility and other conventions make such movement a daunting task.

The Sojourn

As the complexity increases, it becomes necessary to simultaneously manipulate several statues with many castlings and movements. Chess definitions are quite appropriate here, since the puzzles are strictly positional and combinational. It happens that at first you need to build one configuration, in order to then play a different scheme, which in the end will move to the exit.

The Sojourn

Simple statues complement musical statues. Once activated, they restore nearby elements, forming bridges and passages for a limited time.

The Sojourn

There are moments with duplicate statues. By moving it to one of the bowls, you will receive a copy of the statue of the second bowl. This will open access to castling in a new zone or provide other solutions. But if you remove at least one statue from the bowls, both will disappear.

The Sojourn

Increasing the complexity of the puzzles, the game more and more limits your options for moving into the dark world. At some stage, directional spotlights begin to appear, which maintain a dark state strictly within their beam. As long as such a spotlight shines on the bridge, it exists. And as long as you walk on the beam, you can pass the bridge. While the beam is shining on the statue — you can change places with it, directed in the other direction — the statue is not active.

The Sojourn

The trick is that many of these spotlights are not charged. And somehow, having launched one such device, one has to build a network of connected beams in order not to leave the desired state.

The Sojourn

The complexity of such tasks increases due to the increase in the number of elements, when there are many statues of various types and spotlights on the level. But there is also the opposite situation, when there are few elements, and there are many manipulations with them.

The Sojourn

Many puzzles have side quests. After reaching the main goal, the game materializes several more platforms out of thin air, offering to look for a way to the scroll with another pseudo-intelligent tirade. And here there is a problem in motivation due to weak involvement in the plot. This is a puzzle for the sake of a puzzle. And if the additional task seems complicated, then there is no desire to be distracted by it.

In case of failure of some combination, the game provides a safe path to return to the starting point of the level. But you can fall into a random trap and dead end, then you have to resort to the test reset button to start over. The gameplay itself is associated with constant movement through the level. This is not a problem if the solution is found quickly, but if you get stuck at some stage, then walking back and forth with the repetition of the same type of actions starts to strain.

The Sojourn

In some moments, I overcame an obstacle course in the last seconds, while all the effects were working. And this is a definite problem, because the game constantly talks about its clear positioning, where turmoil and speed of reaction are not needed. And it’s confusing, and those moments where you need to act quickly. But there are very few such controversial moments. Perhaps they are connected only with personal sluggishness.

The game uses the Unreal Engine with a simple stylized design. But pleasant lighting, rich colors and an abundance of shiny surfaces make the picture pleasant.

From The Sojourn came out a good puzzle game with original elements, challenging puzzles and a nice visual atmosphere. But due to the weak plot component and the general detachment of the narrative, this is solving puzzles for the sake of new puzzles. The game is perceived as empty and somewhat boring. But if you are a fan of virtual training for the brain, then the described disadvantages are not critical. If you want a deeper dive and are looking for some kind of adventure, then The Sojourn will be boring. And in the latter case, you should pay attention to the magnificent game RiME, if you previously missed it for some reason.

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