As a fan of platformers, I have reviewed quite a bit during Player2Reviews short but sweet tenure. From INSIDE and Feist, to TurnOn and Ninja Pizza Girl, a lot a great games in the genre have come my way. Toby is yet another great one, and is also another title to successfully be inspired by one of the greatest platformers of all time, Playdeads Limbo. Its first impressions will lead you to believe that it is entirely like Limbo, but after diving in you will quickly realize that the aforementioned only serves as inspiration, an inspiration to something uniquely different in all the right ways while being familiar in its core concept. After folks mysteriously go missing with no successful resolutions, it is up to Toby to get them back. This is when your adventure starts.
Developed by Lukas Navratil Games and published by Headup Games, Toby is a puzzle platformer. Its crisp visual sense and casual gameplay make it easily approachable on many levels. From the start, you will know death is one wrongly timed jump away at any giving moment. During my time with the game, I died a fair amount, but found it overall to be more forgiving than others in the genre. Its mild difficulty made it easier to appreciate the game as a whole, giving off a more relaxing experience than a challenging one. The enemies in the game rarely try to kill you themselves, with the more death inducing obstacles being traps and poor timing. The game is also not as brutal as some others in the genre, so this game can be suitable for many youngsters as well. The platforming controls as well as you would want it. As is standard in many games like it, your control scheme consists of running, jumping, and pushing or pulling. In addition to the platforming, the puzzle based side of things is also fun and a bit more engaging than I would have thought.
Though I wanted more physics based puzzles, Toby’s overall set of trials is a solid fare. Again, you have your sort of “industry standards” like box stacking, weight balancing, and key finding. Aside from those were a feature that really impressed me. There are several true puzzles throughout the games, so to speak. These are done on a pop up screen, indicating that Toby himself is performing these puzzles. Some were mazes that you had to swap pieces out until you got the right path, while the other was a lock that you had to find the right combination for. These puzzles really shined and were a key part to my wholly positive experience while playing. Each was unique, diverse, and paced well between each other. I love that the developers found a feature that they could truly branch out with, because it really succeeds.
Another aspect that manages to make Toby the Secret Mine stand out in a crowd is its visual style. While initially it looks all too familiar, its color palette changes from level to level and just looks gorgeous. The change of pace helps keep each different area feeling fresh and vibrant. The audio direction is great too, with chirpy and gloomy songs popping in and out depending on the level. Audio cues also serve a purpose. You will need to pay close attention while looking for any of the 26 friends you can find (the games singular collectible). These guys are hidden in a similar fashion to that of the sprites in the Rayman series, usually being behind false walls and stowed away paths. Occasionally while walking you will hear a creak in the wood beneath your feet, indicating that it is breakable, which will usual reveal a hidden portion of the level. I love this classic sense of discovery where you can manage to find hidden objects on such a simple visual plane.
Toby the Secret Mine is an excellent puzzle platformer. It takes cues from its inspirations and capitalizes on them in its own ways. Its casual approach makes it appealing on a broader spectrum, and its overall pacing and length work perfectly for the genre. The ending actually will surprise many. Where other games like it have failed to conclude things in a narrative sense, Toby pulled the rug out from under my feet with an ending I would not have expected. There is really nothing bad to say about this game. If you are a fan of the genre, there is no excuse not to give it a go.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8.5/10
+Great Entry in the Genre
+Vibrant Color Scheme
+Non Traditional Puzzles
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