Sokomage: A Puzzlingly Splendid Game

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Are you looking for a game where the pixel art style of Undertale in color meets the puzzle-solving gameplay of Baba is You? If the answer is yes, then Sokomage from Afil Games may be what you are looking for. 

This environmental top-down puzzle game is shorter than any game that I have played in a long time, clocking in at around thirty minutes to complete all thirty puzzles. Each level has the player slicing down bushes and pushing ice blocks to make their way to the crystal at the end. If there were more puzzles then I could see myself playing this game as part of my nightly wind-down session, but with how simple the thirty existing levels are and the inability to solve the puzzles in different ways I do not see myself replaying this one more than a couple of times.

The gameplay is about as simple as it gets, with the only controls being movement (up/down/left/right) and an action button. This was not an issue to me, however. Not every game needs to have controls that take three tutorial stages and a guide to understand, sometimes simple is better. In this scenario, simplicity is a critical part of Sokomage’s charm. Beingable to pick up the controller and immediately understand how the game works is not something that I take for granted. One note that I do have is that the controls, at least on Xbox, feel sluggish. I found myself tapping the movement buttons quicker than the game could respond, making moving about each level’s grid feel a bit tedious, especially in instances when I needed to backtrack after clearing the path for an ice block to go through.

A game’s musical scoring can make or break the experience. As someone who has previously worked as an audio engineer, I have a heightened sensitivity to the sound design in the games that I play. The soundtrack for Sokomageinstantly had me humming along and nodding my head in the same way that Undertale’s soundtrack did when I originally played that game. While certainly repetitive, the tune of the music that plays during the levels is a perfect example of an ear-worm; a song that gets stuck in your head before you can even identify it as a catchy tune. 

Overall, Sokomage is an enjoyable, albeit quick, experience. For how cheap it is, it is definitely a good addition to your collection if you are a fan of top-down puzzle games. Afil Games has a plethora of other titles available as well. Gladiator’s Arena, a top-down arena shooter rogue-lite, and Storyblocks: the King, an engaging puzzle and narrative game, look particularly interesting. I intend to check out some of their other games soon.

Sokomage is currently on sale through Steam for sixty-nine cents, making it worth giving a try. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 / 5 and Xbox consoles for five dollars USD. Those price points are easy to get behind, I would pay the five dollars for the music alone. Getting a fun, albeit short, game along with it only sweetens the deal. 

As it stands, I would give Sokomage a six out of ten on my rating scale. The gameplay is enticing and the visuals are that perfect type of modernized pixel graphics, but I wish that there was more to experience here. If there was ever an update that added more levels I would be among the first to jump back into this game.