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Backlog Review | Sokobos

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Being blessed by the gods is a distinction that only a select few have had the honor to enjoy. And being adorned with strength that could outmatch the mighty Hercules is a gift that could help a destitute village prosper. However, boons from the gods are not given freely and in payment the generous Aeschylus must solely build an extravagant temple in honor of the great Zeus and his generosity. 

Now we must follow our solitary hero as he pushes, slides, and organizes the materials needed for the structure he has sworn to build in the Sokoban inspired puzzle game Sokobos from Daisy Games! Here’s how our mind-bending adventure fared:

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I’m sure we’ve all encountered a sliding puzzle game at some point in our gaming careers, and honestly I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with them. On one hand they’re typically simple enough in concept that the satisfaction of sliding that last block into place keeps me interested long enough to help me get through whatever side quest or objective I’m trying to complete. On the other hand, if they require too much brain power to solve, then I’ll just get frustrated and look up the solution so I can move on. Making them more of a pain in the ass than something I’m looking forward to.

At first glance, Sokobos seemed like one of those types of games. Which meant I was hesitant to dive in at first since I know I’m easily discouraged by the mental gymnastics required when the shit hits the fan.  So to speak. But it was its style that ultimately drew me in and gave me the courage to try. I really enjoyed its low-res 8 bit aesthetics which very much reminded me of something you’d see on an Atari 2600, and its soothing low-key music seemed perfect to kick back and chill to. But it was the addition of some more unique mechanics outside of the standard “push-a-block-into-a-spot” gameplay loop found in these “Sokoban” games that had me intrigued, and I was curious to see they would alleviate my concerns, or if it would just make the game more complicated.

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Like other games of its ilk, the primary objective in Sokobos is to solve each of its 60 puzzles by pushing the various blocks around the stage and fitting them in their proper spot. A nice feature that makes figuring out where they go easy, is that the floor tiles will have silhouettes of each block signifying their placement and their orientation. The challenging part is figuring out how to get them there. Luckily, the intuitive controls never fight you on that so it’s smooth sailing in a “it works exactly the way I thought it would” kind of way.

Honestly, one would think pushing and organizing blocks wouldn’t be that exciting, but each of the levels have a lot of thought put into them and every time you solve one of the puzzles you’re left feeling accomplished (and rewarded with a charming little chime). As you progress more obstacle types will be introduced as well, adding not only the good kind of complexity, but a much more varied set of mechanics to play around with. Things like pots and wood frames will block your path so you need to mindfully rearrange them, bridges can be used to open up paths so you can tackle the puzzles from a different angle, pressure plates will open and close doors, and one of my favorites the paint splotches, which can be used to color your blocks.

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Despite the fresh angle to the “Sokoban” style of puzzle game, I did still hit a few walls (no pun intended) while playing Sokobos. And it really isn’t a complaint but more of an observation of my ability to solve these types of puzzles, because this game can be tough! Brain bustin’ tough!! It’s deceivingly simple in that you know exactly what you need to do, but the blocks are arranged in such a way that the solution seems out of the realm of my comprehension. Nonetheless, I’ll reiterate that this isn’t a complaint, because if solving these types of puzzles is your thing and you love the idea of slowly and methodically sussing out solutions to complex organization puzzles, then Sokobos will give you everything you could have dreamed of.

Outside of that, what I truly appreciated about the game was its plethora of accessibility and quality of life features. Made a mistake (or 10) while figuring out the solution? You can undo them! One at a time or all of them at once! Can’t figure out one of the puzzles and just want to move on? You can skip it and come back later! There’s options for color blindness for those who may have difficulty distinguishing the different blocks by color alone, and even things like being able to turn HUD elements off or on. All of these add up to a highly customizable experience that empowers you to play the game comfortably and in whatever way you’d like. The only thing I could ask for would possibly be a redo button and prompted with a warning when I accidentally hit reset!

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Sokobas takes a classic and simple puzzle game and elevates it in more than one way! Which means if you’re looking for a mind-bending puzzler to sink your teeth into, that’s easy to pick up and difficult to master, then you truly can’t go wrong. I enjoyed my time with the game, and even though I hit a few roadblocks, I’m sure I’ll be revisiting it time and time again until I build that dang temple!

If you’re interested in checking out Sokobas for yourself, you can find it right now on Steam.