Wow. There have been a lot of intense games releasing lately. Do you ever feel the need to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice puzzle game? Well, that was me, and that game was TOHU, a lovely little title from The Irregular Corporation, the same people who published one of our highly praised 2020 games, Mars Horizon.
TOHU is a brand new adventure game set among a world of weird and wonderful fish planets. Let’s get ready to discover the truth about a mysterious little girl and her mechanical alter-ego, Cubus, as they solve puzzles in this interesting title.
Our story begins with learning about the wild and abstract world in which this all takes place: a series of fish planets. Yeah. You read that right. Unfortunately, a strange creature comes along and causes destruction while the fish planets are sleeping, and in doing so breaks the Sacred Engine. The Girl, who is shrouded in mystery, finds the Sacred Engine as broken, and she decides to go on an adventure to fix it and find out who was behind all of this.
This nameless Girl is special in this world, because she seems to be the only bipedal hominid and she is equipped with an insane ability; the ability to transform into a mechanical alter-ego of sorts called Cubus.
Right from the get-go, TOHU captures you with its bizarre world and wonderful characters. The story is rather simple, but it is quite effective. The Girl is a wonderful little character that exudes charm and adds so much more life to the world around, and her adorable little voice puts a big smile on my face every time she chats with NPCs or laughs at unfortunate circumstances.
TOHU plays like any other point-and-click adventure, and it controls quite well on the Switch, but I would be lying if I pretended that docked mode was equally as fun as handheld. Like with many point-and-clicks on Switch, using the joystick to move the cursor is significantly slower and not as accurate as using the touch screen. Docked mode works fine, but it is limited compared to handheld.
The mechanic that sets TOHU apart from its competition lies in the Girl. Since she is able to switch from Girl to Cubus with a click or a tap, puzzles in the game circle around the idea of using both of them. For example, Girl can climb and Cubis cannot, and Cubis can lift heavy objects while Girl cannot. These mechanics may seem simple, but having two different characters within one with differing abilities can throw you for a loop at times. You constantly need to think for both of them, because often times they are both essential.
Some puzzles require a lot of back and forth between areas, and this can cause a bit of fatigue while playing due to the slow nature of movement in these sorts of games. I also found that some area pathways were a bit confusing, because a couple exits would be right next to each other and it was initially hard to know which one went where. Thankfully, these issues were fairly uncommon, but they do exist.
Your journal is a great place to track what is going on. For starters, there is the GOALS section which helps you to know what you need to do next, and this will be multi-tiered if the task is layered. This is great to simply remind you of what you are doing in the case of a long and exhausting puzzle. There is also a HINTS section in the journal, which is basically a mini-game where you need to hit four red buttons without missing to access. It is a fun way to gain clues if you are lost, and it is a unique way to make players work for their hint.
The last part of the journal is the COLLECTION tab, which keeps record of all the cool mechanical bugs and such you have found throughout your journey. Yes, these collectibles are not necessarily things you obtain, but they are little mechanical beings you find and sketch into your journal. Looking at how the Girl depicts them is a lot of fun, and it is really cute going into the journal and looking at all of her drawings.
TOHU‘s soundtrack is the right kind of relaxing and smooth for a puzzle game like this, and I found myself listening to the menu music the entire time I wrote this review. I cannot recommend enough to listen to this game with a pair of headphones. You can thank me later.
And the game looks gorgeous. Point-and-click adventures usually have the advantage of making their worlds look unbelievably amazing thanks to static images and few moving parts on each screen, and that is true here for TOHU as well. Strangely, I did find the load times between areas to be rather long, and I am not sure for the reason. However, it did not sour my experience, but I did find it odd.
TOHU is a lovely little title where the world is one of a kind, our protagonist is a charming and mysterious character, and the puzzles are the right kind of fun for a point-and-click adventure. The game has its minor flaws, but they take a seat backstage when compared to everything the game does right.
This is a title that can easily sit next to giants of the genre like Machinarium, Monkey Island, and Grim Fandango. I know these types of games are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan and are looking for that next point-and-click fix, then look no further than TOHU and its immaculate world and adorable characters.
Charming main character
Great use of Girl/Cubus mechanic
Docked mode is inferior to handheld
Some backtracking is quite slow
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.