TOHU Review

I was never one for old school point and click games. I think I lack the cognitive ability to really get the most out of them, however in recent years I’ve enjoyed a few mainly due to little leg ups developers have integrated; a slight sheen to interact-able items, or an easily accessible toggle to show what’s what, as well as vastly more logical puzzle designs. Tohu initially drew me in thanks to its wonderful art and music, however I have to admit that I struggled to truly enjoy the puzzle element for the most part as there was just a little too much abstraction to the solutions, much in the vein of the old days.

As I say, Tohu looks fantastic; the art style is wonderfully unique, with large and colourful designs complemented by scenes that are constantly bobbing and moving around. Each of the planets we visit (which are, naturally, all giant fish) has a distinct visual appeal too which is lovely. The audio work is stellar as well – the main theme was stuck in my head for days after playing, and the minimal grunts and sound effects are pitch perfect.

The thing is, Tohu’s visuals are so good that the actual items we need to interact with blend in too well with the rest of the scene. More than once did I get completely stuck, only to find that a small valve or plank in a room could be used. In order to pick things up we need to drag the cursor around with the stick – of course this suits a mouse more than a controller, so it can be a bit fiddly to scroll it around looking for anything we can use. There is a hint system available – accessed by completing a mini-game so as to encourage us to work on the puzzle first – but even that can be pretty vague at times, showing the end result but not necessarily what or where things are.

Some of the logic here too is a bit obscure; one late game puzzle necessitates time travel, solving various puzzles in each period to unlock progression in the others. The slightly cumbersome cursor movement, and the lack of hints as to what we can and can’t use, could easily make this section much harder than it needs to be. Full disclosure: I resorted to a YouTube guide for a large portion of my playtime. I’d always try an area first, but there were many, many puzzles that I just could not fathom for love nor money thanks to the aforementioned troubles, and even after seeing the solution I’m not sure I’d have figured things out on my own. This wasn’t helped by the cursor occasionally refusing to actually work; I’d highlight an item to use, but pressing the button did nothing. I’d have to click on something else on screen first, then come back to it. This made some solutions seem impossible briefly, again not helped by not being overly sure what I could use in the first place.

Of course, as mentioned that’s partly on me, but I do feel like the solutions here are just on the wrong side of challenging. Which is a shame, as even despite my foibles there’s something to Tohu that is really charming. While the solutions may be obscure, the little animations that play or the scenarios that occur when one’s solved are great. Again, the audio visual work is excellent, and the brief tale is uniquely bizarre and engaging. If you dig tricky point and click adventures then Tohu comes recommended. If you’re just in the mood for a more streamlined puzzler though, this may be a bit too finicky for that purpose.

Conclusion

Tohu draws from its inspiration well, using excellent visuals, animation, and audio to really craft an enjoyable tale. It’s some of the actual puzzles that let the side down a little though as they can be just a bit too obscure for my liking, bringing back the days of seemingly random items used in bizarre ways. With a little help, I still managed to enjoy my time with Tohu though, and if you’re more point and click inclined then I’d highly recommend checking this title out.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Lovely art, animation and audio
  • Interesting tale, told with humour and sincerity
Bad
  • Interactive items sit too well in amongst the background furniture, and dragging the cursor around with the stick a bit too cumbersome to make scouring areas fun
  • Occasional issues where interactions didn’t register properly
7.6
Good
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 9
Audio - 8.5
Longevity - 7
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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