Toki Tori 2+
Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes Publishing
Release Date: 23 February 2018
Price: $14.99 / £13.49
Reviewed by Phil Myth
Two Tribes' Toki Tori 2+ is a slick marriage of Metroidvania style exploration and cleverly constructed puzzles. It's incredibly tough to decipher, and can be somewhat of a frustrating slog at times, but when everything clicks you can't help but marvel at the ingenuity.
Taking control of the titular chicken, you waddle your way across various landscapes that are as dastardly in their construction as they are gorgeous to look at. The colourful art style really pops, whether you're avoiding lava in a volcano, or inching your way through shadowy caves.
Figuring out how to progress through these areas is the game's entire challenge, and a challenge it undoubtedly is. Being a chicken, Toki Tori isn't blessed with anything as useful as the power of flight. The poor little guy can't even jump. You can walk, you can whistle, and you can stomp. It doesn't sound like much, but using these three techniques to manipulate the various other creatures that inhabit the world, allow you to reach areas that just don't look possible at first glance.
Those creatures are quite varied too. They feature crabs that live inside wooden platforms, and bug-eating frogs that burp bubbles. Whistling to attract crabs into position, or pounding to release a bubble that can carry you onto higher ground allows Toki to continue his quest. Each section you come across is cleverly constructed to make use of these three abilities in a surprising number of ways. Although the constituent parts may remain the same, no two areas ever feel alike, and the solutions to each obstacle require some serious thought.
In fact, there were more than a handful of occasions where I was left completely stumped on how to progress. This got rather frustrating, and there's nothing in the way of a hint system to give you a clue. Often, my progression was hindered by a lack of knowledge of the possible applications of the various moves Toki is blessed with. This is where the game's Metroidvania elements come into play.
In other titles in the genre, if you can't progress it's because haven't acquired the right weapon or item. In Toki Tori, it's because you haven't learned how to combine certain effects in order to move the yellow buzzard onwards. It's incredibly clever, because you've got every tool you'll need to finish the game from the moment you press start. But knowing that you're not missing anything, bar the cognitive capacity to decipher the set up, can be incredibly disheartening.
There's very little in the way of motivation too. What story there is, is barely hinted at, and your actual objectives don't become clear until about halfway through the game. This makes it rather difficult to find the will to continue when you've spent the last half an hour pacing up and down the same stretch of grass, pounding and whistling to no avail.
However, when you do hit upon a solution, you'll be so pleased with yourself you'll be filling out an application to Mensa. Similarly, the eureka moments that hit you when you return to an area you've previously visited, and apply the same moves you've always had in a different way to unlock a new path, are genuinely grin-inducing.
As mentioned previously, the presentation is incredibly charming. The various creatures all look adorable, even the scary ones, and the beautiful visuals are offset nicely by cheery music and sweet sound effects. It looks just as good in handheld mode as it does on the TV, with everything running at a smooth 60fps.
The game's initial appearance on Nintendo consoles was on the Wii U, and the various tweaks and additions that were added to that game are included here - such as being able to set a manual checkpoint whenever you like. This comes in handy for some of the more timing based puzzles where you don't want to have to start the entire room over. Unfortunately, the level editor found in the Steam version of the game isn't present, which is a bit of shame given how fun it could be to unleash your own creativity on these simple yet varied mechanics.
Toki Tori 2+ is one of the most cleverly constructed puzzle games out there, and certainly rules the roost on Switch in terms of complexity. Successfully navigating a room can make you feel smarter than Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan put together. But beneath the cutesy presentation lurks a game unafraid to leave you scratching your head for long periods of time. Those without the patience to sit there stumped, may find the combination of dastardly level design and lack of motivation to persevere completely off-putting.
Pros & Cons
+ Incredibly clever puzzles
+ Charming presentation
+ Wide variety in solutions
- Can get incredibly frustrating
- No narrative spurring you on
- Level editor missing