by Adam Nix
reviewed on PC
Family Friendly Point-and-click
Point and click adventures have had quite a change in popularity and relevance over the past couple of decades. Games like Grim Fandango and the Monkey Island series are probably the most famous of them, while other games like Humongous Entertainment’s Pajama Sam and Freddy the Fish made their games with a younger audience and “edutainment” in mind. TOHU, developed by Fireart Games and published by The Irregular Corporation, seems to take inspiration from the ladder. Through creative, cartoony artwork, and a lighthearted story, TOHU aims to provide a creative, family-friendly game.
TOHU takes place in a fantasy solar system. You follow a girl who needs to fix her broken machine on her home planet. She follows the tracks of a mysterious villain who damaged the machine. The Girl makes her way across different planets solving puzzles and mysteries of this quirky universe and the odd characters in it.
Although the game and story seem to be set up for a younger audience, I still found a lot of its beats to be nonsensical. A main mechanic in the game is that the girl can turn into a large metal robot, which opens up other options for puzzles. This was a fun twist in the game, but I really didn’t understand what this robot was. It wasn’t explained in any meaningful way at any point in the game.
Each planet has something the girl needs, and they are usually held by a strange, quirky character. Once you solve a set of puzzles, they give you what you are after. Each character also has a weird connection to the girl’s uncle that is a bit confusing. Her uncle is the central point of a lot of the story, but you never understand why. Every character in the game talks about him and how lonely he is, but it is completely separate from the plot points that move the story along.
Click and Wait
Like any point-and-click game, a lot of the gameplay requires a keen eye for seeing out-of-place details and solving puzzles. Although some puzzles in TOHU were fun and interesting to solve, there wasn’t any consistency to their challenge. Some could be solved in seconds, while others would be frustrating or tedious.
For instance, sometimes there would be images on the wall that would match up with different items you could click, but to actually solve the puzzle, you would need to walk back and forth across the interactable items many times to ensure they were matching to the right images. I’d usually find myself solving the puzzle only to realize that I would have to click and wait as the slow walking animations played themselves out until the character finished their task.
Issues with puzzle and story aside, the art in this game was so fun. I felt like I was reading a Dr. Seuss book. Fantastical character art and environmental design really make the world feel more alive. Each new frame was another page in a beautifully thought out world. Each planet visited offered new, creative imagery that the girl and her robot friend fit into perfectly.
My only complaint here is that I couldn’t interact with the scenery very much. In a point-and-click game, I look to have some kind of reaction when I interact with things. Besides the occasional animal or bug making noises, the amount of “fun” interactions outside of general puzzle solving was a little lacking. Even with the interactions that did exist, the click zone for certain items was way too small. I’d sometimes have to slowly hover over an item for an extended period of time before I could find the spot that was clickable.
When Nostalgia works against you
TOHU isn’t the best point-and-click out there. The confusing story and tedious puzzle solving leave a lot to be desired. Point-and-click adventure games of this style live in a weird place today. This one seems to take inspiration from Humongous Games’ portfolio and it is just too hard to live up to the nostalgia of playing games like Pajama Sam as a child. The art and interactions in that game are unforgettable and the story was fun and educational. TOHU starts going down this path and succeeds in some of that world building and light-hearted story telling, but it barely even scratches the surface compared to what already exists.
Fantastic Art, Some creative mechanics.
Tedious puzzles, Confusing story, Lack of interactions