Developer: Something We Made
Release Date: September 17, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Something We Made
Genre: Puzzle Adventure
I often find myself deep in action-filled gaming experiences that leave little room for breaks. However, there are times I want to just sit back and enjoy something at my own pace. Developer Something We Made understands my desires and delivered Toem. Presented in a quirky world and filled with some of the cutest characters around, this game has the potential to bring out the photographer in all of us.
Players enter this world with a mission to uncover the mysteries of Toem. It’s almost like a right of passage for this family as members are tasked with climbing the highest peak in the region to see Toem with their own eyes. However, that will require players to collect stamps from citizens to progress to new areas.
It’s an exceptionally chill experience altogether as their little stress put on the player to rush through this world or complete every task offered. In fact, you don’t need to complete everything to progress, so completing the game is made even more straightforward. However, this is one game where you’ll want to stay until each area is finished as tasks involve exploration-based puzzles, item interaction, and simply talking with characters for a bit.
Every moment of gameplay offers discoveries but also pushes the imaginative character designs and personalities. These NPCs are just adorable plain and simple. They also show some growth between interactions as you complete other tasks, so you’re encouraged to speak with them again.
The core gameplay gimmick is photography, and most of the missions given to players involve taking pictures. It’s a rather interesting design choice because the game is present in a sort of paper-like aesthetic from an overhead perspective. However, entering camera mode allows you to see the world up close in the first person, but the transition is seamless.
The photosystem involves following descriptions to determine what picture you’ll need to take and deliver. Characters who offer missions are shows with a star symbol, but sometimes it’s tough to remember what they specifically request. Talking to them after the mission is accepted just has them ask for the picture, but if you don’t have it, they just say, “Nope, that’s not it.” But they should re-provide what they’re looking for to limit a trip to the menu.
Most of the time, I felt like Toem didn’t want me to go to the next region as each contained area on the map has benches that players can just sit on and hang out for a bit. Further, bugs and animal life roam, begging to have their picture taken and added to your album. It’s these subtle interactive side missions that immerse you in the cartoon environments and slow you down.
The missions can be like puzzles that get fairly more challenging as the game goes on; nothing really stood out as frustrating. In retrospect, I wasn’t frustrated at all, even when traveling from one end of the map to the next to deliver a photo since the world is just, so god damn charming and the player character moves at a well-paced speed.
Character customization is an option, which comes naturally as you complete tasks. These are fun articles of clothing from hats all the way down to shows; by the end, you’ll be the most fashionable character in this world. Further, clothing is also used to complete some missions, so it’s more than cosmetic reasons.
Toem is presented in black and white, which works for a game about photography where its beauty doesn’t really need color. Every area provides picturesque scenery to take a selfie or mess with the camera angle to see the world differently. Further, the game doesn’t overstay its welcome with a runtime of about 7 hours and still more stamps to collect.
One thing I wish was available was a specific button to open the missions list. There are several ways to open this list, but I would have liked its own dedicated button since you spend so much time reading over clues.
Toem is an enjoyable and charming game where you get to look at a beautifully hand-drawn world through multiple perspectives. There’s the right amount of challenge offered to keep players engaged in a chill experience that also tests their knack for capturing that perfect shot. This is a game to relax with, where the destination is as picture-perfect as the journey.
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