There are many instances of games where people might suggest they’re a perfect fit for certain platforms. The Nintendo Switch, in particular, comes up often in such conversations. It’s definitely a big name when it comes to indie games. But that isn’t the reason why, in the case of Signs of the Sojourner is a good Switch fit. Its gameplay, nature, and presentation all come together to ensure its perfect on the platform.
For those unaware, Signs of the Sojourner is a game about growing up and preserving what’s important. After your mother dies, you and your best friend attempt to keep running the store she owned. It’s the only thing that ensures a caravan of travelers and stream of visitors come to that town. Your friend will run the store at home, and your job is join the caravan and visit other places to get stock. To do that, you need to talk to people. Which you do via a deck of cards with certain symbols and effects. Except everyone has different values and ways of speaking, and you have to match tones to have a productive conversation. You can only have 10 cards in your deck at once. After each conversation, be it a success or failure, you have to replace one card with a new one. And the more time you spend on the road, the more fatigue you get to make conversations more difficult.
Signs of the Sojourner is a game of delicate balances. You have an idea before you talk to anyone what their tone will be like. And you always know what cards you have. You also know what’s happening in the world around you and can check a calendar of events. It feels very much like life. You know you can’t do it all. Things won’t always go well with everyone. But, you make do and try to prioritize when you can.
And the Switch is a perfect fit for so many reasons. The first is the general presentation. It’s a very clear game that’s easy to read, regardless of whether you’re playing it docked or undocked. I’d say it’s even better in handheld mode, as I picked up on nuances and effects better because everything was right in front of me. When I would check the calendar, my deck, or my items, it sort of felt like I was on the road and checking a digital organizer before heading out on a trip. Which probably sounds silly, but it really helped with the ambiance.
So did being able to play Signs of the Sojourner on a device with a touchscreen. There’s something satisfying about that with card games. It feels more natural when plucking cards, making choices, and going through the world. Often, even in handheld mode, I’ll resort to using buttons on the Switch when I can. (A few games, like A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism, are the exception.) But it’s so natural to go through things here by touching and picking out what was important and mattered.
Even some of the more frustrating elements of Signs of the Sojourner felt mitigated by how I was playing. Basically, I ended up experiencing it while also going through two “heavier” games. Both of them required a significant investment and hours of gameplay in a row. Because of its nature, I ended up picking at Signs of the Sojourner. I’d go through a month in a sitting, Did I mess up a conversation? Well, the consequences were a lot less dire than, say, accidentally using a hammer on the wrong plot of land and undoing farm work.
And, while it isn’t directly tied to Signs of the Sojourner itself, it helps add to the Switch game library as a whole. We have a number of immediately available and upcoming games that all deal with socializing and exploring relationships with other people. A Short Hike, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Cozy Grove, Night in the Woods, Rune Factory 4 Special, Spiritfarer, and Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town are all here too. It’s helping to cement the system’s identity and offer an even more well-rounded approach to games where interacting with others is a big deal.
I honestly can’t think of a system better suited for Signs of the Sojourner than the Switch. It is one of those indies where even though it is great no matter where you play it, what with the way it handles deck-building and development. But there is something extra appropriate about playing it in handheld mode anywhere you might go. Especially on a system known for games that can feel cozy and like they encourage exploring relationships.
Signs of the Sojourner is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.