Toby: The Secret Mine (Review)

Very simplistic in premise Toby: The Secret Mine is a 2D platforming game with puzzles and a non-verbalised story.  Emphasis is placed on the art style and the tone of the game to tell the tale and from the start you’re thrust into the game with barely a title card. The story works well here as a simple chase tale, you take control of the titular Toby and set off rescuing your mates and chasing an oddly familiar, character with red eyes. Throughout the levels, 21 in total, you’ll keep coming across the red eyed chap as he always manages to stay one step ahead of you. Whilst the story never truly grabbed me, the simple chase dynamic worked to keep the tension up and urge me on my way.

Whilst Toby: The Secret Mine takes significant leads from Limbo it does enough to stand out in it’s own right. Whilst it uses that same black silhouette style to represent the scenery, there is a significantly wider use of colour throughout the game.  The backgrounds tell the tale of a journey across deserts and mountains with splashes of bright colours used throughout, it all looks very nice and really crisp. The overall style of the game is minimalist, from the menu at the start through to the lack of any detailed pause screen, and is a style which captures the tone of the game really well and is visually striking.

Mechanically you’re tasked with solving simple environmental puzzles to progress, things that see you pushing boxes or timing jumps.  The puzzles themselves are all simple affairs but many of them suffer from a lack of clear signposting.  As the game uses black silhouettes to show the foreground there is little to indicate when you can effectively jump behind the foreground.  For example you may be able to see the switch you need to press but unable to reach it without a box, you’ll know you need a box to push but this will be hidden as part of the foreground or hidden in a tunnel.  Effectively this black box will be hidden in the black foreground and won’t be visible. Whilst this kind of hidden in plain sight puzzle occurs a lot, they never truly ruin the game and just end up being a little frustrating. You’ll be walking into plenty of walls to make sure you’re not missing anything.

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