"Everything started from an idea for a puzzle game with two different worlds where the player can use different mechanics to solve puzzles. At the very beginning we weren’t even sure we wanted to make a puzzle game. But the team liked this design much better than the other options on the table! We wanted to see how those puzzles would actually play", Design Lead Nima Memari explains.
That's how Shifting Tides' atmospheric puzzler The Sojourn came to be. It sees players travelling between two worlds, one of darkness, another of light, in order to overcome its obstacles. Built as a symbolic journey through different chapters of life, both its world and an angelic voice that acts as guide come together to tell its story.
Unfolding in front of you, The Sojourn's world is meant as a representation of the inner self, unusual architecture and beautiful colors giving it an almost dreamlike aura. In its current form, it plays akin to titles like The Witness, mixing peaceful exploration with first-person puzzles. To progress, players have to employ several different powers, like switching to the other world in order to bridge a gap and move forward.
"We started the game design with extensive, complex mechanics with many possibilities and combinations. The next step was to strip the features to the point where it had decent balance of interaction and complexity. I realize taking this route is way harder, but it yielded more unique and interesting results that better fit the design philosophies of The Sojourn.", Memari explains. Initially, the game's world shifting mechanic time-based, rather than depending on distance, which turned out to be a bit too stressful.
Developer Shifting Tides went back and "changed a lot of problematic aspects of the design", to better reflect its vision and answer the complaints they had received.
You can see 10 full minutes of The Sojourn in the video below and follow it via its Steam page. Published by Iceberg Interactive,The Sojourn is scheduled to launch on PC, Xbox One and PS4 sometime in 2019.