“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” – Victor Hugo
Sonority is a unique musical puzzle game in which players take on the role of Esther, a young girl who must discover the magic of music in order to solve puzzles, progress through the world and save her friend.
Developer: Hanging Gardens Interactive
Released: 25th May 2022
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: Steam
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
The protagonist Esther has the ability to talk to animals and when a bear friend of hers becomes sick, they send her to look for those who can instruct her in the magic of music in the hope that she will be able to heal them. Along with advice from a slightly grumpy raccoon NPC, Esther also learns about the academy from a series of storytelling mosaics to inspect as well as informative stone plaques that can be activated with collectables. The narrative elements are minimal but add an extra dimension to the gameplay and are delivered in a variety of ways to help keep things interesting.
Near the start of the game, Esther acquires a set of panpipes that she must use to solve puzzles and progress through the game. Musical notes must be played and input into pillars that will control a set of moving platforms when activated. For example, if there are two pillars that control one platform, putting one note followed by the note directly below it in the scale will cause the platform to lower by one.
Notes are introduced gradually, taught to Esther by sentient rocks that inhabit the ruins she is exploring. The puzzles have a very gentle but definite difficulty curve and the conundrums get far more complex as more notes are added. Esther will also discover new instruments that play a different scale, opening up even more musical possibilities. There are also a variety of pillar types that get introduced such as ones with fixed notes and others that must always match one another. Despite the gradual increase in difficulty, mistakes are not punished and puzzles can be reset at any point.
The instruments can also be used to unlock a series of chests that can be found through Esther’s exploration. Each chest will play a series of notes that needs to be mimicked in order for it to open. Each one contains a piece of music that will play on a loop as long as the player is within close proximity. Musical elements can also be collected, these can be inserted into stone plaques to reveal lore about the surroundings and the magic of music.
Sonority has a stylised 3D cartoon aesthetic that uses plenty of bright colours for a vibrant overall effect. For the most part, the music consists of Zen-like droning and twinkling noises that sit comfortably in the background so as not to interfere with the musicality of the puzzles, or the varied and relaxing songs found by unlocking chests. The music is quite minimal but is a definite highlight of the game.
Sonority is an innovative and unique puzzle and adventure game that makes its music-themed challenges very accessible. Trained musicians will have something extra to appreciate but rest assured musical experience is not required to solve these satisfying conundrums. The engaging storyline, cute characters, calming music and colourful styling help make this a relaxing game even in its trickier moments with the fun and rewarding gameplay remaining at the forefront of the experience. Overall this is a refreshing and enjoyable example of a puzzle game and I highly recommend it.
Looking for more music based puzzling? You might want to take a look at:
One Hand Clapping: Sing Your Way Through this Brand New Adventure!