Toy Odyssey came out of nowhere and hit me over the head with an experience I didn’t know I needed: A Metroidvania Roguelike set in an ever changing house, playing as a super hero robot taking out hostile toys. I hadn’t followed it’s development – I hadn’t even heard of it until Brash Games offered it up for review. That’s one of the perks of writing up games for a living; playing what you’d otherwise overlook. Sure, for every BioShock Collection there’s a Pro Farmer, but it’s the hidden indie gems such as Toy Odyssey which really make this pursuit worthwhile.
People move home every day. Somebody, somewhere, in the developed world is packing their belongings into a truck and going to set up anew right at this moment. For the unseen family of Toy Odyssey though, it comes at a heavy price: A darkness creeps through the very foundations of their new home, and it wants their son. So what does this evil entity do? It takes control of his toys. Thankfully though, our hero – Brand, a robotic action hero figurine – is on hand to take them down, save their son (Brand’s owner), and deliver the house from evil.
The randomly generated Roguelike genre has seen something of a renaissance recently, especially with indie developers. Neon Chrome, Full Mojo Rampage and a plethora of other games take the concept of one-life gameplay and ship themselves as twin-stick shooters. Toy Odyssey does something different though, and it largely succeeds: It combines Roguelike gameplay with the gated progress and exploration of Metroidvania titles, even being presented as a side scrolling platform game. As Brand, you run and gun your way through dozens of screens of the family’s home, which is procedurally generated every time you play. Each time you die, and you will die a lot as you are vastly underpowered for the first dozen or so playthroughs, the game ticks time forward by one night. When you respawn, the house layout has changed, and any quest you were on will have to be undertaken afresh.
Progress through the house is a simple affair, with a button to attack and another to jump. Platforming feels weighty and natural, but the actual combat is a little lacklustre – enemies barely react to your hits, so it’s a matter of timing your attacks and dodges to match their pattern of attack. To be honest, I found this quite satisfying in a way, but it would be nice to have some indication that the enemy was being hurt. As you collect nuts from the enemy toys you destroy, you can return these to your base in the missing child’s room, and speak with the various good toys you’ve rescued along your adventure to level up your abilities and skills. You can also craft weapons here, and there’s even a base defence element which has you creating turret guns and the like. Every time a night ends through your death, the room has a chance to be raided by evil toys, and without the defences you build you’ll have a chance of losing some crafting components.
I was pleasantly surprised by the whole aesthetic of Toy Odyssey. All of the backgrounds are hand drawn in classic 2D platformer style, and the bright colours of your base contrast superbly with the dark, oppressive atmosphere of unexplored rooms. The soundtrack matches too, and can even be rather sinister at times. The user interface is reasonably friendly, and once you get your head around the different systems in play – Roguelike, Metroidvania, crafting, RPG-lite – you’ll find a lot to enjoy here. The fact the map is constantly changing around you makes each night an unpredictable playthrough, so if you have a passing interest in any of the mashed up genres present in the game, I recommend giving it a shot.
Toy Odyssey is fun to play, good to look at, has a lot to keep you busy and is reasonably priced. With it’s combination of platforming, crafting and survival, if you’re looking for a memorable and solid indie experience, this is it. What’s not to like?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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