Title: Toby -
Platform: Steam, Windows
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Players: Single player
Written by Bad Demoman 24th December 2015
Toby: The Secret Mine is a game that touts itself as a “Challenging puzzle platformer inspired by great games like Limbo”. So right from the get go, it sets itself up for some difficult expectations (and absolves me of any guilt I'll feel for the inevitable comparisons). Limbo enraptured players with its simplistic style and its hopeless, dark story. So can Toby really compare to Limbo, or even make its own space?
I'll be straight to the point here – Toby is dull. Extremely dull. It felt a chore to play, in fact. The “challenging puzzles” are quite the opposite, instead feeling simply frustrating. Many of them seem to be down to trial and error, and some of the early ones are as simple as could possibly be. Pushing block puzzles, with nothing new to offer, just feel absolutely inexcusable now that we've seen so many excellent puzzle platformers. Some of the puzzles felt inhibited by the art style. For example, in one I couldn't find any boxes to solve the puzzle with – only to find that the completely black, silhouette-
The pacing is bipolar and confusing. This is partly due to its attempt at a story, wherein the main character seems to be trying to save people being captured by a hulking beast that looks very similar to the main character, but much larger. Occasionally you come across this creature, at which point tense music suddenly starts up and the beast sprints off (despite your complete lack of combat capabilities and its considerable size advantage on you). I'm not too certain of the point of these, I guess it's to build tension and introduce you to your villain, but the massive, instant change of pace feels jarring, especially since it seems you're to chase the beast. But as soon as it's off screen, it's gone and the music fades out. You'd be as well not even bothering. The pacing is further hurt by the short length of the game and particularly by the occasionally ridiculously short levels. While Limbo explored each of its concepts and areas in length, Toby feels like each level is just a small taster that leaves you unsatisfied.
The artwork is decent enough, bar the previously mentioned problem of things blending into the foreground. The backgrounds are genuinely pretty, and have a varied selection of environments. Occasionally they jar with the silhouette foreground and leaves things feeling a bit inconsistent, but most of them are great. The sound design on the other hand, is underwhelming. Some of the sound effects, such as the walking in the rain sound, ends up grating.
Toby ends up an underwhelming, dull puzzle platformer that does nothing new or interesting when we've got such platforming gems as Limbo and Fez. Even Albert and Otto, a recent game with a similar style has more to offer with its control of the bunny character to solve puzzles. The background art really isn't enough to make up for its gameplay. I don't see a whole lot of reason to buy Toby: The Secret Mine, as even if you do find yourself enjoying it you're getting very little content for your money.
Pretty background art.
Dull, trial and error puzzles,
Nothing new to offer.
Toby: The Secret Mine gets a 4/10.