It would be perfectly reasonable if, at first glance, someone said that Toby looks like a game that simply wants to ride LIMBO’s coat tails. Luckily I am here to hash out the similarities and differences of the two. For example, Toby does share the silhouette hero (and usually foreground) thing that LIMBO did so well. While this is true, Toby offers up vibrantly colored backdrops and several colored details around the world that LIMBO could never have. I think my favorite examples would be the blood covered spikes and the brilliantly white snow in one of the areas. These kinds of things could never show up in LIMBO because of its black and white constriction. Beyond simply having color, Toby also offers up its own unique artstyle that is as endearing as it is deceptive.
Like I said, Toby does share some things with LIMBO and any game developed within the next few years that even remotely resembles LIMBO will have to hear that as well. It will be up to the developers of those games to do what Toby has done in putting a new twist on a previously explored idea. While the protagonist and bad guys are still black and white, they aren’t really human and thus come in various sizes and with different eye color (white=good guy, red=bad guy). This makes it obvious from the beginning who players should approach with caution. The game’s music also helps the player decide if they are in danger or not simply by changing tempo as soon as a larger danger becomes present. The music fits right in with the game’s world and various levels.
Since Toby does have color, it allows each level to express a different feeling simply through what colors make up the background. For example, the forest area is filled with lush greens and whites that give a sense of serenity and peace while the winter level is blue and feels a bit more somber and lonely. Beyond the color and backgrounds that come with them, each level has various puzzles and traps that only appear (or first appear) in them. All of this comes together to make each level feel unique and fresh when encountered for the first time. Don’t be fooled however, as Toby’s levels hold more than just a few secrets. Between collectibles and puzzle-vital objects, there are a ton of things hidden just out of view. These secrets may be under a platform you need to jump on or right before a trap that has killed you several times, but you can be sure that there is nearly always something hidden nearby.
To add to the danger that the levels in Toby can bring, some levels include environmental hazards. The best example would have to be the avalanche in the winter level. With this avalanche raging on behind the player pushes the player to run and jump faster and faster. This won’t be the only time the play feels pressure however as there are multiple times the player will be chasing down mysterious creatures that have captured (supposedly) your friends and family. These scenes put the pressure on the bad guys for once and is a refreshing change of pace. No matter the situation, the game’s simple, tight controls make it easy to jump into and explore the various levels.
Unfortunately, Toby doesn’t do a great job of conveying its overarching story. The game does a decent job of showing (not telling) the player the ‘bad guy’ while failing to explain their motive or even what they’ve really done (if not just kidnapping friends/family). This doesn’t get expanded on much throughout the levels and simply leaves the story feeling mysterious and a little forgettable. Despite not fleshing out the story in the main portion of the game, the end does offer the player to be either the ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’. I’ll let you discover exactly what that means.
Toby: The Secret Mine is visually appealing game that would easily fill the gap in any platformer fan’s schedule. It may not be terribly long, but it is fun throughout. The levels are well designed and thought-provoking, leading to an experience I doubt I’ll forget too soon. Simple, tight controls allow players of various skill levels to play even if they don’t play similar games often. It may not make a difference to many people, but the simple addition of color makes Toby stand out to me.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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