Poor Sonority – it came at a time when there were so many PC games screaming for attention, and none of these quickies like Divination. Some of these games wanted my blood! What a shame, then, as this indie from Hanging Gardens Interactive is beautiful.
It is no surprise that Sonority is ranked number three in the most-wanted on Steam. If it’s already on your list, get it. Simple as that. It’s a very subtle puzzle adventure where you play as Esther and must investigate the rockery.
Perhaps that sounds like a garden centre adventure from hell, but Sonority is far from it. Played from an isometric viewpoint (with manual cameras), you’ll explore this gorgeous fantasy land shrouded in silence, save a few musical notes. Esther encounters a stubborn raccoon on this adventure, who slowly realises her potential and that she is on a quest to find the cure for someone she cares for.
At a somewhat calming tempo, you’ll unlock a new note for your instrument to solve a series of puzzles. Said puzzles will depict a small monument that you interact with by playing a note and then triggering a sequence. If you choose correctly, a path will unlock, allowing you to progress. Solving these notes is typically a process of elimination and, as far as I’m aware, do not rely on your musical abilities.
That’s a sneaky disclaimer. It’s my understanding that I could be tone-deaf. Admittedly, some puzzles in Sonority can be boiled down to the classic ‘winging it’ strategy, but not too often. Without knowing the sequence, you’ll place a random note (or perhaps the same note as a starting point), and fine-tune it based on the reaction to the environment. Quite often, you’ll get it correct except one, then have to fiddle around with the rest so that you can lower a platform to reach a new area.
In addition to the main music puzzles in Sonority, there are some actual music challenges – albeit simple, if you have the skills. A treasure chest can be located, and you’ll have to repeat the musical notes. They’re straightforward enough, but I somehow struggled with the listening side of things, then repeating. Another aspect I found challenging was playing with a controller.
The controller was my preference for movement, but as Esther unlocks new notes, you must remind yourself which button does what. The muscle memory wouldn’t commit, and I often made silly mistakes. Note that that’s all on me and not a reflection on Application Systems Heidelberg’s game. I would suggest playing on both the keyboard and controller to see what works best for you. The latter works better for moving around the world and locating the missing notes.
There are hidden items which add to the challenge as they’re flat and aren’t that visible. Each area has a certain amount to locate, primarily for achievements, but they can be inserted into various monuments for some additional lore. Sonority is enchanting – not just the musical elements but the visual presentation too, and for that reason, you’ll want to find out as much as you can. The rocks certainly aren’t going to let on, and neither will the raccoon. At first.
So, in summary, Sonority is a lovely puzzle game. It has a very relaxing atmosphere but is reasonably demanding of your grey matter, but never to the point of frustration. At least in my eyes. Mind. Is it worth a look or adding to your library if you are a puzzle fan? If you like the latter, it’s a bit of a no-brainer for me. Of course, check out other reviews or try the demo at the very least. It gets my recommendation as it’s one of those titles that soothes even the savage beast.