Signs of the Sojourner is a narrative deck-building game developed by Echodog Games. It was originally released on PC in May 2020 and is now available on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch as of March 2021. Travel with a caravan of people, visiting different towns, having conversations, and building relationships as you go. Your town is in danger of being removed from the caravan’s route due to a lack of attractive business there. Can you save your town’s prospects?
Signs of the Sojourner – A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action Please
Here we have another indie game shaking up gameplay mechanics, turning conversations into card matching strategy. What games have you played recently that try something fresh and new in this sort of way? Let us know below, I’d love to check them out!
Signs of the Sojourner starts out with a short tutorial that introduces a couple of characters and the main gameplay mechanic. To progress conversations you must place cards from your hand in the provided grid and match the symbols as you go. You can, if you want to, choose not to match them. If you play matches to the end of the grid, you earn a white dot whereas a mismatch will get you a black dot. Earning all the dots of either colour will end the conversation.
As you progress, more symbols are introduced and cards can gain special effects. You are limited to 10 cards in your deck at any one time. This is where things get tricky. You can’t carry enough cards to have consistently successful conversations with everyone. It becomes necessary to either sacrifice cards or sacrifice conversations as you move through the story and the world. The longer you are on the road, the more fatigue you suffer too, which appears in your deck as cards with the inability to be matched with anything.
It’s best to go into the game with the expectation that you cannot please everyone. I tried to have successful conversations with everyone on my first playthrough and found myself getting frustrated. Even so, I better understand the game now and know what to expect next time. You’ll gain the ability to plan for conversations better on each subsequent playthrough.
Another thing to mention is your calendar. This shows you where the caravan will be on certain dates and what other events are happening, among other information. If you have any requests from people these will be shown, along with the progress of the request. The time taken to travel between locations is indicated by how many icons are between the 2 destinations. Each trip can only be a maximum of 50 days. New locations, and routes between locations, can be unlocked via conversations.
Graphics & Audio
As you can tell from the screenshots, Signs of the Sojourner has a vibrantly coloured cartoonish aesthetic. The pastel tones are really easy on the eye. Another great feature is having the symbols on cards be different colours and shapes. This ensures accessibility for those with different variations of colourblindness. The UI is well laid out too with plenty of information visible while not being overwhelming.
Signs of the Sojourner’s soundtrack is pleasant and folky. Each place has its own theme that fits the feel of that town well. Sound design is also great in conversations, with different sounds played for different actions, matches/mismatches, etc. This gives the conversations a certain musical quality.
A playthrough of the story will take most people between 3-5 hours. There is a lot of room for replayability here if you are interested in the story and the world. There are numerous possibilities to explore and, from what I’ve seen, there are quite a few different endings you can reach. The trophy/achievement list can serve as a tracker of the different paths you’ve taken as I’m not sure many of them can be unlocked in any single playthrough.
Signs of the Sojourner has an interesting, unique mechanic with its blend of narrative focus and deck building that’s worth checking out for yourself. I was left with mixed feelings after my first playthrough but I think I approached the game wrong. I tried too hard to speak to and please everyone. I’m going to do another playthrough and focus on having conversations with different people next time and see where that takes me. In the end, Echodog Games tried something new and I think that should be encouraged and rewarded. I award Signs of the Sojourner a Thumb Culture Silver Award.