Toby: The Secret Mine (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 30.06.2017

Review for Toby: The Secret Mine on PlayStation 4

Toby is a whatsit from the village of dunnowhere. Recently, all of his friends have started disappearing. With nobody else to turn to, Toby puts on his bravest face and marches in the general direction everyone was last seen. This is when he makes a startling discovery. Other whatsits are placing his friends in cages and hauling them away. They have devilishly red eyes. When one of them shoots an arrow at Toby, he realises just how much danger he's in. Nevertheless, he ventures onward, knowing full well that not even a hundred deaths are enough to stop him. This is Toby: The Secret Mine, originally released on PC, and now out on PlayStation 4.

Toby: The Secret Mine is a puzzle-platformer designed to mimic the classic game, Limbo. Over the course of 21 stages, Toby will have to solve a myriad of puzzles, while contending with spike-traps, bottomless pits, and other hazards. It's standard fare for anyone familiar with this title's inspiration but, as always, the devil is in the details. Toby's adventure is a little less polished and tends to overemphasise trial-and-error play.

Unless a player is unnaturally skilled, it's reasonable to assume that before this is beaten, whoever they are controlling is going to suffer a number of untimely deaths. However, as the bodies accumulate, it has to be concluded that there is the existence of trial-and-error. In this The Secret Mine, many of the traps are indistinguishable from the environment. A number of spike beds rely on pressure switches. These switches are sometimes nothing more than a slim line on a flat surface. Nobody is going to notice such a miniscule change in elevation. Granted, clear indicators of spike-traps would likely clash with the art direction, though. There's also an audio cue, but the significance won't be apparent until it's too late.

Screenshot for Toby: The Secret Mine on PlayStation 4

The more egregious deaths tend to be the kind where there is simply no idea what is going to happen. A portion of the adventure takes place in a desert, where worm-like fiends live just beneath the sand. As Toby crosses their habitat, they are going to spring from the ground and kill him. They jump in a fixed direction, but the player won't know what way they will go until they attempt to cross, and then die. There are also a couple instances where one last arrow will fly at Toby, shortly after successfully springing an arrow trap. It's a complete nuisance designed to add another corpse to the pile.

Since deaths are all but required to progress, rarely any time is lost when Toby meets a horrific end. Even the inherently awful mine cart sections are mercifully short. Still, there's little incentive to play well. The protagonist doesn't have any interesting abilities beyond the ability to jog, jump, and interact with objects. His leap isn't even variable. Whether tapping a button or holding it down, jumps will always be the same height. Also, it's actually more rewarding to suffer, considering that a trophy is awarded for obtaining a hundred deaths.

To put it another way, there simply isn't any replay value. While rescuing Toby's twenty-six friends is an optional endeavour, there aren't any extra modes or difficulty settings. Worse, the lack of any unique attributes makes for a rather one-dimensional adventure. All that's going to happen on a second play-through is that there will be fewer deaths. This is competent enough when it comes to controls and mechanics, but there's no real joy in anything. With some platformers, running and jumping without a task or a care is fun in and of itself. That isn't the case here.

Screenshot for Toby: The Secret Mine on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

To put it bluntly, Toby: The Secret Mine plays it too safe. It settles for a basic understanding of the fundamentals, and does little to push the player. The pacing is appropriate, the adventure never becomes monotonous, but there aren't any inventive or exciting elements. Trial-and-error game design has its own problems, but at least more effort could have been put into Toby's death animations. Usually, he falls over like a puppet that lost its strings. In some cases, he doesn't do anything, and gamers are merely kicked back to the last checkpoint. If death is such an integral part, at least make it fun.

Developer

Lukáš Navrátil Games

Publisher

Headup

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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