Playing The Sojourn has been the most relaxed I’ve been in a long while. There’s a serene nature to the exploration and progression, even if some of the solutions honestly had me feeling that they were impossible. Of course, the sign of good puzzle game is nailing that sense of achievement once you solve something that you’re stuck on. The Sojourn excels in this area.
The basic premise see’s us entering into room after room, with the exit locked behind a puzzle. Solving these require manipulating various objects around the environment; you can swap your position with totems dotted around, or you’ll need to activate a harp in order to temporarily fix a broken bridge. To do this and more, we must step in to the Dark Realm. Activated through beacons on the floor, or later swapping crystals between items, this grants us temporary passage into this realm.
The ability only drains when you move, so there’s plenty of scope to stand still and plan without being forcefully rushed. While a few puzzles will require a little bit of reactionary movement (at least, my solutions did), most are simply logic based. Put item 1 here, before moving item 2, then back to 1 before swapping over etc.
Along the way, new elements are introduced to spice things up; canisters that duplicate the totems while they are within it’s boundaries, tubes of light that will hold you in the Dark Realm indefinitely and more. Each add another initially baffling option to the solutions, though the puzzles themselves are well designed, offering just the right amount of hair pulling frustration. There were a few puzzles I got stuck on in my time here, but often times it simply required a rethink to my approach. The sense of gratification upon solving these was great, and would often bolster me through the next few areas, before becoming stuck again.
There’s a vague story being told along the way, but for me, this just didn’t connect. I’m all for minimalist tales, and filling in the gaps, but things were a bit too minimal for my liking here. Visually though, it’s rather gorgeous. Bright reds, oranges, purples and blues fill the screen with colour. Each area assembles before your eyes as you enter, with pleasingly heavy sounding brick crumbling audio giving the impression of these hefty lumps of masonry slamming into place.
The Sojourn is a rather pleasant experience, all told. The puzzles are smartly designed, offering a decent challenge without being too obscure – for the most part. The calming backing audio and colourful visuals make it easy to get sunk in, too, with even harder areas a joy to just be in. While the story side fell flat for me, at least it keeps out of the way of the puzzling action.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.