When Good Toys Go Bad
By Richard Jewell
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on September21st, 2016 on Xbox One & PC
Developer: Hiker Games Publisher: Digital Smash
Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found centers around Brand, a diminutive yet heroic toy swordsman. He wakes up at night in an unfamiliar room with no idea as to who he is or what he is doing there until he meets a flying bug named Buck, who quickly sets him straight. Brand belongs to a boy named Felix. The house is full of toys that have been corrupted by some evil force and turned into Lost Ones. Every night they come to life, trying to break into the room and claim the life of Felix. Oh great, like THAT isn’t going to give the poor kid nightmares! Anyways, it’s up to Brand to save him. To do so, Brand must gather the remaining uncorrupted toys to help him protect Felix, build up the defenses of the bedroom to keep the Lost Ones at bay, and search the house for clues about the evil that is infesting it before all is lost!
As a Metroidvania style game, all the action takes place in a 2D side-scrolling fashion. The gameplay will feel very familiar to anybody who has played any of the older Castlevania games. Brand has a main weapon to attack enemies with, and a secondary weapon/ability which consumes battery life, to give him an extra edge in battle. Battery life is displayed as a blue bar in the top-right corner of the screen, just under the HP meter. Brand can also unlock new abilities as you progress, such as a double jump and a cape-glide, but we’ll go over that in more detail soon. There are rat holes scattered throughout the house that act as fast travel points. Once you find a rat hole you have to fight some rats to clear it out. After that, you can use it to quickly travel to any other rat hole in the house that you have unlocked. Now as for the house you will need to explore, it’s a procedurally-generated affair, meaning no two playthroughs will be the same. Toy Odyssey takes this a step further, though. Every time you die, the house rearranges itself and you lose all your map progress. This can be especially frustrating when you have discovered a large chunk of the house and established a good network of rat holes. When you enter a new room, the first thing that you’ll notice is that the room is dark. The Lost Ones love the darkness, as it makes them more powerful. Finding and hitting the light switches in the room to make them weaker will be something you will be doing often, so get used to it. While exploring, you will find diary pages scattered all across the house. They offer a deep insight into the events preceding the game, and the tragic story of the Clade family, the current owners of the house. I highly recommend searching them out because they add much more dimension to the story. Now let’s take a look at your base of operation, Felix’s room.
Felix’s room has quite a few different functions. This is where all the toys you save will gather. You can speak with the various toys to gain information, unlocking sidequests to complete for useful rewards such as items or nuts, the game’s form of currency. By spending nuts you can upgrade the various pieces equipment Brand wears. Every piece offers an increase in HP when leveled up, along with piece- specific special abilities. For example; once you upgrade his boots to a certain level, you unlock the double-jump ability, whereas if you upgrade the cape to a high enough level, you gain the ability to glide for a second. If you want to survive the increasingly difficult enemies, upgrading your equipment frequently is encouraged. Toy Odyssey also features a robust crafting system. Materials that can be found all over the house can be used at the workbench to create hundreds of weapons and accessories as long as you have found the required blueprints. When the night ends, there is a chance that the Lost Ones will have raided the room. There are two ways to end the night. Returning to Felix’s room will end the night. The second, more unpleasant way to end the night is to be killed, which sends you back to the room instead of ending in a game over. Every time the Lost Ones successfully raid you, they steal materials, nuts, and sometimes, they even steal the toys you have rescued, forcing you to search through the house and rescue them again. This pretty much makes all your hard work gathering stuff up a waste of time and effort. This is where the base building element comes into play. Using materials gathered from around the house, you can build defenses to keep the enemies from constantly pilfering from your stash. You earned it, why not keep it? However there is one catch, the defenses do not build instantly. It takes a certain amount of hours in real life time. This means that even when the game is off, it counts towards the build time. Building these defenses is the first thing you should focus on accomplishing to make things easier for you in the long run.
While the graphics are nice, what I really love about this game is the spooky vibe that the music gives it. The weird, off-key sounding piano tunes really turn up the creepiness factor while exploring the dark gloominess of the house. The game can be quite difficult, maybe too difficult for some people, like me, but I find that some of the difficulty stems from the frustrating fetching quests. For example, a quest that takes place near the beginning of the game has you looking for 10-15 pieces each of a set of items. So now you just spent a few hours wandering aimlessly through the house smashing containers and killing enemies, hoping that you can find those specific items so you can progress further in the game. I could think of much more interesting ways of spending my time, to be honest. Even more fun is when you rescue a character, go back to the base to talk with them, and then find out that they’ve been kidnapped and you need to go right back out and find them again. I could do without the whole base building mechanic, I find it detracts from an otherwise great 2D action game. While playing I have also encountered glitches, ranging from minor annoyances to glitches that made me restart my game. Essentially, I have developed a love/hate relationship with this game. It keeps punishing me, and I keep coming back for more! If a challenging Metroidvania-style platformer with a dark vibe and a slice of base-building sounds good to you, this is the perfect game to snap up. If you are just looking for a more casual experience, then you might want to pass on this one.
Just a little side note here, the developers have patched the game already to make the base-building element a lot easier, and they say they are still working on new patches to improve the game. It’s pretty cool to see that they are committed to delivering the best experience they can, so kudos to them!
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7/10
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