Indie studio Shifting Tides’s debut game The Sojourn is both idyllic and sinister. In order to solve its puzzles and unravel a deeper story, players must swap between worlds of light and darkness. Shifting Tide has teamed up with publisher Iceberg Interactive to launch the game on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2019.
The Sojourn draws inspiration from other exploration-based puzzle games, like Jonathan Blow’s colorful The Witness. In the trailer, it seems as though its world is scattered with mysterious artifacts and technologies, reminiscent of the abandoned towers and fortresses of Cyan’s classic Myst.
Shifting Tides’ design lead Nima Memari points to Croteam’s The Talos Principle and Thatgamecompany’s Journey as sources of inspiration, the former because of how its puzzles are constructed and the latter for its emotive aesthetic. Memari is part of a four-person team that has worked together before on some projects, but they only recently decided to form an official studio.
“We were always in love with games that intertwine aspects that complement each other to create a single unique experience,” said Memari in an email to GamesBeat. “If I want to give an example in puzzle genre, Portal 2 did it perfectly good. And that’s what we wanted, a game in which gameplay, visuals and story are all on the same line and in harmony. Not so many games achieved this specially in this genre, but this was what we aimed for.”
The Sojourn is broken up into four segments, which Memari says represents different chapters in life. Each of these will have a different atmosphere and look, and they will introduce new gameplay mechanics as well.
“As we were playing with our ideas about core mechanics of the game we realized having two worlds can be a good fit to one of our favorite topics we wanted to work on in the team, which was morality in our everyday life and how we are losing sight of our pure nature and somehow encouraging people to think more about what we call norms,” said Memari. “We started cooking all aspects of the game simultaneously to make sure they are perfect fit, this was our biggest challenge.”
Shifting Tides’ dreamy puzzler is quite different from the other titles in Iceberg Interactive’s portfolio. The publisher has helped launch horror titles like Zoetrope Interactive’s Lovecraftian adventure Conarium and Cybernetic Walrus’s futuristic racer Antigraviator.