Innovative and fresh are words that get lobbed around in gaming far too easily but they were two words that came to mind as I played through Sonority. This is a puzzle game that manages to feel somewhat familiar in its setting and goals but its how Sonority works that makes it stand out. This is a game that relies on tone of sound as a trigger for your actions.
Esther is a character looking for a cure for her bear friend Batama and to do so, she is looking for a musical melody of a cure. As she searches for this across various scattered ruins, the path before her is often blocked or deconstructed. In order to move things around and clear the path, Ether plays her musical instruments to create little musical circuits to move the world around her. Each puzzle has statues that take on a musical note and then once you’ve filled in all the statues, you stomp the starting block to kick it off. Want a block to be raised one step? Play C then D – going up the scale. Want it to go down two blocks? Play a G then an E.
Esther starts off with just a few notes and more become unlocked throughout the game. This then allows Sonority to add more nuance into the mix. Instead of raising or lowering blocks, platforms rotate or push in and out. Then it might mean you have to connect the circuits too but or have parts of circuits being pushed into certain positions to allow you to traverse the ruins. Esther has no abilities other than her instruments so its a play and run game. You can solve most puzzles with some simple logic and I love that if you don’t understand musical scales, you can swap out the notes for numbers or symbols. It opens the game up for all puzzle lovers.
Beyond the puzzles, you can also just enjoy playing the instruments. There are three main ones and plenty of hidden chests to unlock to and play alongside some musical interludes too. Besides Esther, a Raccoon and his stone friends sing and hum around you. Alongside that, the game has a general musicality to it. A background harp track of all the statues you light up ping away or waterwheels spin to beats. I’d have liked more of that but the world around you is vibrant and alive. The game is 3D but viewed from an isometric angle. You do have some camera swing movement but Sonority does well to remove anything blocking your view from the foreground.
I did come across a few rare occurrences where Esther got stuck. This would happen when I’d made a mistake mid-puzzle and Esther was stranded up high on a pillar. Most pillars eventually drop back down again but some don’t and I had to quit to the main menu and then re-enter the level again. Thankfully, the game auto saves often so you don’t lose much progress but it was a bit annoying.
Sonority feels fresh and unique though. Yes, you are still moving blocks and paths around – that’s no biggy for a puzzle game. Its the feel of doing it by setting musical patterns that sets Sonority apart from anything else out there. Its a joy to play from beginning to end and deserves to enjoy a cult following.
Review copy provided by publisher.
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