games / Reviews

The Sojourn (PS4) Review

October 25, 2019 | Posted by Genna Boyer
The Sojourn PS4
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The Sojourn (PS4) Review  

There’s a quote I’ve been thinking a lot about recently: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Puzzle games have a knack for engulfing me in this never-ending sensation of insanity, and The Sojourn has reminded me of this fact. Except, it’s not due to overly difficult puzzles. Instead, I’m like that kid in The Incredibles who’s waiting for Mr. Incredible to do “something amazing.” My sojourn has been extensive and mindless puzzle solving while expecting something amazing to happen in the next puzzle.

The Sojourn is a first-person puzzle game that plopped me into a world that builds itself. In the beginning, I was prompted to follow a tiny orb of light. As I followed, it was amazing to watch the world seamlessly piece its own appealing atmosphere together. The calming music amplified my awe. Rooms became narratives, and I witnessed scenes from a boy’s life. Unfortunately, the narrative’s mystery subsided once the orb of light slipped me into the prologue puzzles.

The Sojourn introduced me to its core concept during these tutorial puzzles; there’s a light world and a dark world, and you can do certain things in either world. Panels allow you to enter the dark world for a certain amount of time. Once in the dark world, you can switch places with statues, cross bridges that only exist in the dark world, play harps to build bridges for a limited time, etc. Being in the light world allows you to move around obstacles that only exist in the dark world, like thorns.

Tutorials are supposed to be easy. They’re meant to boost confidence and understanding of game mechanics. But this tutorial was relentlessly endless. The Sojourn cements its solutions so thoroughly that after dozens of tutorial-level puzzles, my eyes actually glazed over in a trance of boredom. As the repetitive execution of these puzzles intensified my insanity, the scenery I once found calming became desensitizing. Escaping the tutorial was quite the liberation, but the bland puzzles and scenery persisted.

Eventually, The Sojourn does evolve, but by the time new elements are implemented, the shock is quickly overridden by the same, dull cementation of its mechanics. Every once in a while, I found an obstacle worthy of focus hidden among numerous low-quality puzzles, but they were few and very, very far between. The Sojourn does offer an extra challenge at the end of these main puzzles. However, they often force you to redo the puzzle you just solved in order to complete the new challenge, which can be frustrating for mindless puzzle-solvers like me.

During my time with The Sojourn, I yearned for something amazing. Its aesthetic is good, its concept is interesting, but the pacing of its difficulty is off. Even when new obstacles were added, I never experienced a mind-blowing solution to a puzzle. My understanding of the mechanics was never heightened beyond what I had solved so many times before. The narrative interwoven into this puzzle game seemed mysterious at first, but it eventually dissipated from my consciousness and was replaced by these mind-numbing solutions.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Quantity does not always equal quality and that applies here. The Sojourn has dozens upon dozens of puzzles, but the pacing of its difficulty fails to fully engage the player in its challenges. In fact, I’d argue that the many stepping stones along the path to understanding its mechanics actually numbs the mind rather than strengthening it.