There comes a time in every reviewer’s life when they have to confront a rather ugly truth about themselves. Today as I sat staring at the same tantalisingly gorgeous puzzle I had been for the past thirty minutes, I decided it was my time to realise what I had known about myself for so long. I am terrible at puzzle games. Like truly awful. My mind cannot fathom the most basic of solutions, even when they are presented to me in a simplistic way. However, despite this shortcoming, I absolutely adore the genre. So, while it took me quite a while to come to grips with the deceivingly simple Sokobos by the infinitely talented Daisy Games, I can firmly state that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it nonetheless.
“To complement the exceptionally exquisite visuals is an an inspired and meaningful soundtrack.”
Throughout my time playing puzzle games, I’ve never quite encountered one with such a gorgeously minimalist art style as Sokobos. Taking inspiration from the wonderful art of ancient Greek pottery, Sokobos not only utilises the limited colour palette to its advantage but also crafts a more authentic and atmospheric experience as a result. Levels feel both complex and simplistic in their design, capturing the very essence of the original artforms’ use of limited space and intricate imagery.
To complement the exceptionally exquisite visuals is an inspired and meaningful soundtrack. It masterfully shifts tones occasionally to match the mood of the level and to prevent Sokobos from growing stale. It alternates between being melodiously bubbly and eerily sombre, perfectly encapsulating both the gaudy and tragic nature of Greek mythology.
“Sokobos’ challenging difficulty is incredibly fulfilling and somewhat elevated by a slew of much-appreciated difficulty options.”
Fortunately, Sokobos’ qualities extend beyond its glorious visuals and into its complex and challenging gameplay. Like their previous game, Dark Sheep, Daisy Games have opted for a Sokoban style puzzle game. This ostensibly means that you’ll have to push a block around a constricted space to form a particular shape. The difficulty comes from finding the correct order in which these blocks need to be correctly positioned.
I am not too ashamed to admit that I could not complete every level in Sokobos. In fact, there are still levels that haunt my dreams to this very day. These are not simple affairs, despite deceivingly appearing so when you initially start a level. There is a staggering amount of challenge found in practically every level of Sokobos. This is especially the case when new mechanics are introduced later down the line.
Fortunately, Sokobos’ challenging difficulty is not only incredibly fulfilling but it can be somewhat elevated by a slew of much-appreciated difficulty options. Each and every time I completed a puzzle I felt an immense sense of satisfaction wash over me. Due to the lack of punishing mechanics, I never grew frustrated at my inability to solve any given puzzle, and as a result, I was able to enjoy the gameplay to a far greater degree.
“Sokobos’ phenomenal visuals, great soundscape and rewarding gameplay have me coming back for more.”
This is, in large part, due to those aforementioned difficulty options. For example, levels can be skipped entirely should you struggle for too long, and you can also undo as many moves as you wish. It cannot be understated how grateful I was for some of these mechanics, and how much more approachable they make Sokobos as an experience.
Of course, for hardcore puzzle game enthusiasts, Sokobos is going to be a near-legendary experience. But for those of us who aren’t the most adept at puzzle games, the fact that we don’t have to slave away at one particular puzzle before the next becomes available is greatly appreciated.
Sokobos’ phenomenal visuals, great soundscape and rewarding gameplay have me coming back for more. The fact that I never felt pressured into completing any one level has allowed me to come back with newfound puzzle-solving abilities to try the hardest Sokobos has to offer once more. With over sixty levels to complete, there is a lot to enjoy here, especially for the low entry cost. Suffice to say, Sokobos is a genuinely engrossing and satisfying puzzle experience for both newcomers and veterans alike.
You can pick up Sokobos for yourself via its Steam store page when it launches this April 1st.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the developer.