A darling adventure that will have you seeing the beauty and wonder in a black and white world.
TOEM is just cute. Plain and simple. For a game that provides very little color, they still somehow made you want to look at the artwork and the characters you pass by, almost inviting you to imagine what they would look like if you colored them in while somehow emphasizing the beauty in their grayscale existence. Before playing this game, I had imagined that as the story went on, color would fill the world like similar artsy games of this manner, but when the game ended, I was happy that it didn’t go down that route and that the only color provided was the only color needed to provoke an emotional response at the end of your journey. It was unexpectedly well done.
If the trailer and press kits of the game didn’t give it away, you can rest assured that TOEM is a very easy going game. It’s not meant to stress you out and outside of a few trophies and achievements here and there, completing the game is far from a struggle. There are no enemies to go up against, so put down your weapons and just focus on your camera. There’s no one exact path you need to take for it since there’s not an actual main questline to follow. You need to complete small quests in order to earn yourself a bus pass before you can leave each area. The number required will always be less than the number available, so which ones you choose to complete will be up to you. Of course, the more you decide to complete, the more goodies and accessories you’ll get to customize your character with. Due to the map not being that large in each area and being pretty easy to navigate, completing the quests in each shouldn’t take that long at all. If you want to collect everything available, you can go in knowing that it won’t be too difficult to do so.
The music in the game is provided to you through cassette tapes that you can collect along the way and pop into your Walkman (am I showing my age here? It’s the Tape Player you’ll use from you inventory). The music will play automatically if you don’t want to change it yourself, but each number fits each area oddly well. Even playing a Fishing Song in the middle of a big city works out. I appreciate that it remained background music and never really interrupted the game when it came on. The only thing I wish it did differently is that if you don’t choose the tapes to play, there can be moments of silence with no music at all. You do forget that there is actual music in the game in these parts. It’s so much better to have something playing at all times so you may need to play DJ a few times to make sure that happens.
So what about that camera?! Your trusty vintage camera with extra long zoom. This will be your main tool as you play through the game and it will help you with everything you do. Take pictures to complete the quests, take pictures to earn trophies, take pictures to fill the empty picture frames in Nana’s house. I actually enjoyed the puzzle aspect of the quests regarding the camera. You get a clue of something the local wants and have to go out and find it. Some of the solutions are to just take a picture and be about your merry way, where others require you to to take pictures and interact with other people/objects. There are of course attachments you can get for your camera, none nearly as fun as to play with than the horn (I’m sorry, I can’t get over scaring the seagulls and watching their faces contort in fear). It just adds to the overall innocence of the game.
The trophies and achievements are where you’ll be spending the majority of your time for TOEM. While most of them are in-game completion tasks (complete all quests, fill out the compendium, etc), there are a few additional ones that you’ll need to go out of your way to get. There is freeplay after you complete the story so you don’t have to worry about missing any as you progress through the game itself. You’ll be looking at about 4-6 hours of play time to get them all, which isn’t too bad for a weekend’s worth of indie gaming.
- Easy-going and just a stress-free gaming experience
- The use of color (or lack thereof for that matter) was done really well
- The lack of a main questline to follow allows for a different gaming experience among players
- There is plenty to do after you’ve completed the game if you’re going for full game completion and/or trophies/achievements
- The soundtrack fits nicely as background music and adds to the humble experience
- You can pet all the dogs
- The music won’t play all the time unless you physically choose the tapes to play, allowing pockets of silence to take over
- That’s really it, tbh
Overall, I wouldn’t say this game is for everyone (especially if you much prefer to murder things and the such), but if you’re looking for a relaxing time or perhaps need something to entertain the kiddos for a weekend, this will do just the trick. It’s adorable, it’s easy, and it’s just very innocent. A great addition to the indie collection.
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Game & Developer Information
Developer/Publisher Website: Something We Made
Developer/Publisher Socials: https://twitter.com/SWMGames
PSN Store Links: £15.99/€19.99 Europe / $19.99 North America
Trophy Information: 38. 1 / 4 / 13 / 20