Sephonie is a slow narrative adventure of three scientists trapped on a mysterious island as they seek to explore the lifeforms around them. You do this by playing a Tetris like puzzle game.
Yes you heard me correctly, it’s Tetris! Sephonie’s mini game is not quite the same but it does evoke the same feelings. You have colored blocks spawning on the playing field. The current block and the next block are always shown, as well as the total number of blocks left for that turn. Your goal is to create islands of three or more matching colors. Once the turn is over, the islands of three or more matching colors disappear and you start a second round.
The game is definitely more on the stress free side since you can freely move the blocks around and take as much time as you need. There are mechanics that are added in later puzzles to keep the game play fresh. For example, the first added mechanic you come across are gems blocking the playing field. To remove a gem, you can place a block over it but the piece over the gem will be destroyed in the process. You can use this mechanic strategically to remove less desirable colors or shapes in order to form better islands.
You only engage with the Tetris minigame when interacting with the life forms on the island. In between these segments, the game plays like an open world platformer. You start out with a basic dash, jump, and wall run mechanic. I have to make a note here, the default keybinds for keyboard are not the best and I would recommend either playing on controller or rebinding the keys immediately. Movement is controlled with the arrow keys while the camera is controlled with WASD. This is not ideal when trying to move the camera while dashing and jumping at the same time for wall runs.
As another side note, the characters feel like controlling a tank. The dash takes some time to wind up and then the character will move in a mostly straight line ahead. It does take some getting used to and some may find it undesirable, especially when coupled with the controls.
While exploring and platforming, you have narrative delivered through cut scenes and dialogue between the three characters exploring the island. It’s a bit slow for my liking but the developers have found a cult following for their previous titles, especially for the narrative delivery, so it may be someone’s cup of tea.
Overall, Sephonie looks and feels like an older generation game but it does have its own sense of charm.