Travel The Paths Less Taken In Signs of the Sojourner

Communicate beyond words in card-based narrative title Signs of the Sojourner.

A year ago, I had a gander at Echodog Studio’s Signs of the Sojourner. Even in its early stages, the game promised to be a wonder of wordless communication. With the full game, Signs of the Sojourner takes the ephemeral symbolism and assigns traits to each symbol. This gives them more power, and more importantly, shows how different people speak. It’s not what’s said, but how it’s said.

During a sociolinguistics module in university, it soon came to my attention that even within a singular geographical locale, there were subtle or sometimes marked differences between how the same language evolved in terms of tone, vocabulary, and nuance. The same can be said in this lovely game, where your deck of cards represents your entire conversational repertoire. 

An image of a map depicting several routes in Signs of the Sojourner.
Travel to where the wind carries you.

I played through my journey on the road, and my subsequent return after each one. Signs of the Sojourner extends this to five separate trips and each with its own charms and follies. I am tasked to stock the shop of my dying town Bartow. I will learn of my mother who came before me, and the many, many people who speak of her, but not always well. I also pet the dog Thunder (he’s a good boy).

After each conversation, I am told to swap a card from my current deck of ten for one that I learned from speaking to a person. It’s a wonderful way to depict how a person slowly learns to adapt to the linguistic traits of a particular area, and sometimes forgetting their old ways altogether. 

Signs of the Sojourner also has power cards, and these range from duplicating symbols (handy for when you have no other matching cards) to sliding in between certain cards to form a connection. To me, they are wonderful ways to show how people with different sociolinguistic backgrounds adapt to communicating with others unlike them.

Menu selection for Signs of the Sojourner.
My handy-dandy calendar, as well as my list of profiles and items to keep track of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve seen.

What’s more is that you, the player, have a profile log of each and every person you speak to. They display “good” conversations (steady, balanced banter), and “bad” ones (disagreements). For each successful conversation you have, you are able to obtain a character-specific item. Your calendar also keeps track of where your caravan is headed to. 

If you’re like me, and love to chat with literally everyone you come across — don’t be surprised when it takes you down the road less taken. What I can say is that actions have consequences, and you have to be prepared, come what may. 

The art of Signs of the Sojourner is a gorgeous pastel punk landscape, and you’d sooner forget that you’re in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth, but there are reminders of this within the people and the things you receive. Cutscenes are also included in this full version, and the break with the protagonist and Elias, your childhood friend, is one such lush example. 

This game has shown me that above all, we are still very social beings — apocalypse or not. With each trip, I learn more about my mother’s adventures as a sojourner before me, and talk to people who give advice. 

I will warn — be careful of who you trust because that’s the nature of life, even out here.

I did manage to get my painting back if that’s what you’re wondering.

Signs of the Sojourner is out PC and Mac. You can also learn more about the game and the studio at their website.

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