game thoughts: Signs of the Sojourner

Signs of the Sojourner is a game that you might easily overlook while scrolling through your Gamepass selections. It’s logo doesn’t have a sexy leading character wielding a large sword, no dragons bearing their fangs. In fact, the featured image tends to either be sweet Elias’ half smiling face or the happy dog from the town.

Signs of the Sojourner is a beautiful game, not about fighting monsters or dodging bullets – it is a story about community and remembrance – about getting to know those around you not through side quests killing kobolds, but through conversations.

In the game, your small town, Bartow, is struggling to keep their local store stocked. You (as the unnamed protagonist) and your childhood friend Elias work together to keep Bartow on the map and, more importantly, on the caravan’s travel route. Elias and other townsfolk send you out with requests for items they need back home. You have five trips before the game ends and the caravan leader makes her decision.

But your mother has recently passed away and it was her guile that kept the caravan visiting. You don’t know how she did it, but she commanded a lot of respect all across the route. As you travel from town to town, people recognize you as her child and begin to recount their memories. The better your conversations go, the more likely you are to learn about your mother and also acquire knowledge that could save your town – and other surprises!

But these conversations are not lists of text choices – it’s a card game. The core mechanic behind this whole game is a deck builder. You need to match the symbols on the other person’s card to keep the conversation positive and agreeable. Mess up, and you will misunderstand each other or, sometimes, start an argument.

After each successful conversation, you choose a new card from the chat to add to your deck…but you “forget” a card too, discarding it from your deck. While your home town is filled with people who have similar conversation styles to you, as you travel further away, you will find new symbols emerge that you don’t have in your deck.

Signs of the Sojourner is easy to pick up but once you’re about halfway through that 4th trip, you realize you need to play again. That you’ve missed opportunities. Sometimes you have to focus on making friends with one group at the detriment to another, since your cards symbols just won’t match up in every situation.

I’m on my 3rd play-through now and an entire town I didn’t even know existed came up in a conversation with someone I had never managed to complete a round with before! Now it is on my map and I’m desperate to talk to someone that knows the road there and can reveal it to me before the end of the month or my hand fills up with fatigue cards (as you drive around, you get tired and those cards fill your deck, though there are way to remove them while out and about…remember that dog I mentioned?)

If you have Game Pass, I really suggest giving this a try (it is also available to purchase on Steam, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch). It takes a few rounds to grasp it and also to realize that this is an interactive story, not just biding time until the battle. It was so refreshing to play a game about a journey, about people and not about fighting.

You can find out more about the game at Echodog Games website

Have you played ‘Signs of the Sojourner’? Are there other, similar games you’ve played that you wish other people knew about? Games where the main story didn’t revolve around fighting someone?

2 comments

  1. I started Signs of the Sojourner, and while I haven’t picked it up in a bit, it’s waiting for me in that “chill game I can make progress on from time to time” slot. Right next to Griftlands…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I played the demo for ‘Griftlands’ and really liked it. Waiting to pick it up at some point during a Steam sale. They are both perfecting for sipping your tea/coffee in the morning and playing something.

      Like

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