Review : Toby – The Secret Mine

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Toby: The Secret Mine is a puzzle platformer with a lot more emphasis on the puzzles. Toby trods along at a leisurely pace and doesn’t have much in the way of jumping, but much of your time will be spend pondering puzzles anyways. The graphical style is fantastic and wandering at a slower pace allows you to take in all the delicate touches present. The soundtrack is also rather nice, mixing real world sounds into alien-sounding synth pads. If you are looking for a twitchy fast-paced romp, this isn’t the title for you. If you are looking to be taken to another planet and grit your teeth at a variety of extremely well-designed puzzles, Toby: The Secret Mine is worth a look. How good is it? Let’s take a deeper look at Toby: The Secret Mine.

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Each level in Toby takes on a unique style. The background color changes, but so do the obstacles and enemies. This simple change is a great lure to push through even the most difficult challenges in attempts to see what lies beyond. While the first few levels are simply a warm-up, when the heat starts to turn up you will take notice immediately. The puzzle variety is delightful but does little to set itself apart from the games it was inspired by, apart from the aforementioned variety of levels. Toby: The Secret Mine is a game about immersing yourself into the environment. Exploration is limited, but always rewarded. There are 36 friends to be set free across all the stages, which will keep completionists busy… But outside of this mechanic, there is little replayability.

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There are certain points in the game when the big bad will appear to throw bombs at you. These are honestly some of my favorite moments in the game, despite Toby being let down by his minimal movement speed. I feel that with more action and mobility added into the mix, Toby could be a much more engaging game. As it currently sits, the graphical style, music, and top-notch sound are able to pull me into the world, but I didn’t feel engaged by the main character at any point. This makes me feel that something critical is missing, especially in a game that is relying much more on immersion that action. I can appreciate either one, but a choice needs to be made and I think it is in this decision that Toby really stumbles from being a great game to just a rather good one.

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While I can appreciate a tribute game, I’d really like to see the formula of the original game (Limbo/Nihilumbra) expanded upon. Toby: The Secret Mine was an enjoyable game to playthrough, but I don’t see myself revisiting it for any reason except to immerse myself in the visual style. I’m not sure how many friends are on each level, so I didn’t bother searching. The story is extremely bare-bones, and I wish a little more would be put forth. Overall Toby could use a little more polish but is certainly worthy of a look in its current state, especially if you enjoy deviously tricky puzzles. I’d like to extend my thanks to Lukas Navratil for allowing me to put this game through its paces. It’s certainly an impressive first game, and I can’t wait to see what you have next up your sleeve.

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Summary: Rather generic puzzle-platformer, with some interesting ideas.

Verdict: $10 is a bit much in my opinion, try to catch it on sale if possible.

Toby: The Secret Mine was released on Steam October 20th 2015.

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