This game is broken!!! Oh, wait, no, it’s me. Sokobos is a Sokoban from Daisy Games, out on Steam on the 1st of April. Hhmm… mental anguish… 1st of April…. is this a prank? No, it’s just damn hard!
Sokobos quickly became my favourite of the puzzle trilogy Daisy Games kindly provided me. Although the motivation was about getting some justified exposure for his excellent indie puzzlers, I’ve uncovered a social experiment of reviewer’s confidence, patience, and coffee-drinking habits.
Sokobos is an excellent game, though. Those initial steps through a Greek tragedy were far from it. Did I glide through the puzzles with ease? Hell, no. Looking through the menu options from the very outset, I opted not to show how many moves it would take, nor that my score would be broadcast.
However, a tweet by the dev that showed how the press was getting on (I’m just a typist) was a kick to the nuts and arse. The first was painful; the second was motivation to do better and aim to be on the first page of scores before Johnny Public gets the game and shows us all up. Pfft – call yourself a reviewer? You can’t even build a garden!
Still, I liked the game and was happy to experiment with the moves. Like Dark Sheep, Sokobos is a block-pushing puzzle. There’s a knack to getting to grips with them, and while I think I got a grasp and improving, this game is the hardest. According to the dev, they can finish their games in an hour, but this took them four. Yikes!
It might be fair to assume this is lacking in a story as it’s a simple C64-like puzzle game? No – there’s a story here. You play Aeschylus and are blessed by the Gods with inhuman strength. You are to build them a temple single-handly. In terms of brawn, it’s a piece of cake, but they didn’t bless him (me) with the brainpower to solve the puzzles. Instead, I would procrastinate with another game of Beat Invaders, or touching up schoolgirls in the locker room. Way out of context, but I’m referring to Gal*Gun.
Initially, a puzzle might involve moving a structure such as a column or bridge around a very narrow area to work with, but everything has its place. Soon, paint is introduced, and you’ll have to move a piece over a little colour patch or perhaps move some surplus vase out of the way so you can backtrack once more. Fortunately, there are unlimited undos – and they genuinely help. Best of all, it has controller support.
There are 60 levels in Sokobos, and if you’re motivated by achievements, you might think the selection is underwhelming. On the contrary, this game is challenging, and completing the first task of building a garden was elusive as I had skipped a couple of levels. Can you skip a level? Sure can, but like in real life, it’ll come back and bite you on the arse, so skipping levels is like going ahead in a novel, only to come back as you’ve missed so much. It’s like that leaky tap you’ve been meaning to fix. Save yourself the drama and do it now, then finish your palace.
With an ample amount of time to review the game, I was having mixed feelings about it and even roped in my daughter to help. She got frustrated almost immediately, but the worst experience was me just about to solve a puzzle, and she wanted to ‘put the cherry on top’ but instead pressed retry, and we lost all progress. If the computer weren’t so valuable, I’d have thrown it. Instead, I threw my daughter. She was too heavy, so I just gave her a guilt trip that she shrugged off.
Going back to that conspiracy theory of experimenting on reviewers, Daisy Games hadn’t broken me with Dark Sheep – I still recommend it but would say that Hack Grid was my preference (probably because I could do it). I can still be objective and give this game the acclaim it deserves. As for the dev, he has tarnished my soul with another cruel yet rewarding game. While this is arguably the better of the trilogy I’ve reviewed (including Dark Crypt), it’s just a little too much for me to enjoy it.
My motivation for playing games is escapism, entertainment, storytelling, and mostly an excuse to write. Sokobos is entertaining and a thoroughly well-made game yet again, but it feels like an ongoing chess game of moving a few pieces, having a think (about where I’m going in my life), returning, and so forth. It’s not for me, but a definite recommendation is if you like hardcore puzzles that genuinely make you think.