By Josh Di Falco 20.03.2017
At its core, Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found is a 2D platforming game, with minor similarities to the roguelike genre. This story centres around a toy named Brand, who embarks on a quest throughout the house to uncover the mystery behind the encroaching darkness, which engulfs the house at night. This darkness also impedes on Brand's owner, Felix's dreams. Hikergames' dark and twisted version of what toys get up to at night does the basics of a 2D platformer very well.
The story begins in Felix's bedroom where Brand must discover the reasons as to why Felix has been having nightmares since he and his parents moved into the new house. Guided by his trusty companion, Buck, the duo spend each night exploring the various rooms in the house to try to get to the bottom of it all. The bedroom is dominated by a domineering toy called Pike, who is useful for giving hints, information and the occasional quest to complete.
It turns out that the house is full of Lost Ones, unclaimed toys who without an owner have become lost to the darkness, thus turning them evil. What begins as a quest to bring back toys that haven't been lost yet, soon turns into one more dark and mysterious. Soon, Felix's bedroom becomes a well-manifested base of toys banding together, as more of them are found during quests.
Once Brand gets to exploring, the game takes on an action-platformer, with evil toys that must be defeated. The cleverness in the enemies and their designs adds to the charm and appeal of this game, with the toy UFO's who beam down from above, to the rats that defend their rat holes, which also acts as shortcuts to other rat holes in the house. Army soldiers stand en guard, while toy cars are as deadly as they are fast. As the game progresses Babushka Dolls arise as the stages pile on the difficulty. There is a handy Toypedia feature in the main menu, which keeps track of all the toys defeated, as well as their item drops, for a handy guide.
The toys drop cogs, which is the games currency, as well as items, which is used to create all sorts of things. Brand begins the game with a Plastic Sword, and Throwing Axes. Certain chests that may require keys to open contain different blueprint schematics, which enables Brand to craft new weapons for increased damage. However, these blueprints require certain materials to build, and soon, this becomes a grind for items, all while trying to knock over quests.
Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found is a surprisingly busy game. While the beginning of the game shows a lot of promise, the game soon opens up into a plentiful world with heaps to do. In addition to all of this, come the roguelike elements of the game. See, Brand ventures out of the bedroom every single night, and every night equates to a life, so when Brand makes his way to the living room, and gets killed by a Toy Commando, he awakens back in Felix's bedroom. However, this time it is now Night 2, and Brand retains all the materials, items and cogs that he had collected prior to his death.
Then Brand wanders back out of the bedroom to have another crack at that living room. Except, once he walks out of the bedroom, he realises the corridor that was there the night before is now the kitchen. And that the entire stage layout has rearranged itself into a new "run." Soon enough the realisation dawns that Brand must be well equipped and highly levelled in order to complete tasks in a single run, because dying will require a do-over the next night. While it's highly infuriating at first, due to the extremely tough toys that could be randomly generated on the very first stage, it soon becomes manageable as Brand levels up by spending cogs.
Each time Brand wanders off into the house, Felix's bedroom is left open to attacks by the Lost Ones. The second part of the game, as opposed to the platforming sides of things, is a base defence type of mini-game. Certain defences need to be built to better guard the bedroom from the evil toys, and they cost cogs. When Brand dies, his materials are brought back to the bedroom and thrown into the inventory. However, once he goes out exploring, any attacks on the bedroom that is not successfully repelled results in a loss of items and cogs. So that hard earned material that Brand finally collected could be lost due to not properly defending the bedroom.
This is where the micromanagement between levelling up, crafting new weapons, and building defences for the bedroom comes into play. Unfortunately trying to juggle all of this with the few cogs that are found results in many deaths just to finally accumulate enough of a currency to purchase a defence, and normally this is at a cost of upgrading Brand's health.
While Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found does fall down a bit at this area of the game, with the annoying defeats that hinder progress, it doesn't do enough damage to greatly detract from the platforming and exploration in the randomly generated house. Plot wise, there is also a reason for the randomly generated rooms, which is cleverly done.
Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found is a special type of game that has a really wonderful and childlike atmosphere, with an overlying grim darkness that engulfs the house, and poor Felix's nightmares. Brand is a likeable toy who just seeks to rid his owner of his nightmares, and try to banish the darkness from the house. Memoirs and diary entries from the various family members further pry open the dark mysteries of the situation. While counterbalancing the base defence element of the game, it can become annoying due to the high cost of the defences, and considering that many runs don't produce a lot of cogs until later in the game when Brand is highly powered, it can be a frustrating beginning. Once the early stages have been passed, though, and Brand has started levelling up and completing quests, an amazing experience opens up in what is one of the better action-platformers available on the PS4 in recent times.