HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewSokoWinter Review

SokoWinter Review

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As life gets increasingly more hectic, and as the dark days of January seem to stretch off into the distance, there should always be room for a nice, gentle puzzle game. And if that puzzle game involves cute penguins, what could be better?

Well, riding to the rescue are Gray Boss and QUByte Interactive with SokoWinter. As with the best of these games, the promise is simple, but the execution can be anything but. So come with me to the South Pole (as we all know, there are no penguins at the North Pole!) and get slippy with it. 

sokowinter review 1
SokoWinter starts off easy

The set up of SokoWinter is almost embarrassingly simple. It has been discovered that penguins like to slide ice blocks around in their spare time. I’m not sure when a penguin gets spare time, as you’d imagine they would be looking for fish or something, but still, it appears when they have the chance, they kick back by sliding giant blocks of ice into the water. And thus is the premise of the game laid bare – we have to control a gang of cute penguins and move some blocks. So far, so easy, right?

The simplicity of the story is also reflected in the presentation of the game. The screens are viewed from an isometric, top three quarter type of view, the camera fixed and unable to be rotated. The levels are all different, with varying sizes and layouts, gradually increasing in complexity as we get further into the game. Our little penguins, of which there are four to choose from, are suitably cute with hats and scarves on, and the way they move is also pretty adorable. The blocks of ice we need to shift are taller than our feathery heroes with plans focusing on simple blue targets. To help aid, there is also a grid pattern laid out over the scene. 

So far, so simple, right? Well, yes and that all extends to the sound as well. There are some jolly nice tunes in place in SokoWinter whilst the sound of sliding ice cubes is there to be heard. Now, I’ve been to enough zoos to know that penguins are noisy little buggers when they get going, so this clearly isn’t an awfully accurate game. Even though each different penguin has its own Latin anime listed in the achievements!

sokowinter review 2
The difficulty ramps up a bit

Onto the actual gameplay and the theme of non complexity carries on. As we begin, we have one block, one target to dunk it in, and only nice, crisp snow to walk upon. As the levels get higher, and the difficulty rises, there are new elements added in. These can be as simple as merely an extra block or two, which need to be sent to the right places, or, as you will soon come to dread, the introduction of ice into the snow. You’d think this wouldn’t be an issue for a penguin, accustomed as they are to walking on ice, but there is a catch with this ice. Once you step on it, you will continue to slide until the ice ends, either by stepping onto snow, being stopped by a block or running up to the edge of a hole. Yes, luckily, penguins appear to not be able to fall down holes, so there are no nasty death scenes here. 

Basically, in SokoWinter you are left to simply slide the ice until it falls into the hole, and then rinse and repeat. I’m going to struggle here to reach the required word count for a review, I fancy! What’s nice is that different penguins unlock as you go through the levels, unlocking after every twenty levels or so. There is some longevity to the game as well, as in a move that is pleasing to me, the achievements for SokoWinter are tied to progression through the levels. To 100% it you will need to complete all of the levels, and this is a lot easier said than done. There are a host of stages in SokoWinter to try your hand at, and as they get harder, they do require some thinking. 

The control system is my only real niggle, mostly as it is set up in a weird kind of diagonal fashion; up will slide you right a bit, whilst left goes up the screen, and so on. This does take a bit of getting used to and in the early stages it is all too easy to send a block up against an edge where you can’t recover it from (the penguins can only push the blocks, not pull them, sadly). Should this happen, a swift press of the B button will see the level reset back to the beginning, allowing you to try again. Thankfully it’s only a minor niggle, and one you will soon get used to. 

sokowinter review 3
You’ll need to get used to the weird controls

All in all, it means that SokoWinter is a good puzzle game with a decent degree of depth. Expect the difficulty to rise, along with the amount of brain power required to solve what SokoWinter can throw at you. But ultimately, if you want a nice relaxing experience, SokoWinter is the game for you. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Looks cute
  • Loads of levels
  • Achievements are actually achievements
Cons:
  • Controls tackle a bit of getting used to
  • Levels are quite samey
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One
  • Release date and price - 21 December 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Looks cute</li> <li>Loads of levels</li> <li>Achievements are actually achievements</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Controls tackle a bit of getting used to</li> <li>Levels are quite samey</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte Interactive</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 21 December 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>SokoWinter Review
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