TOEM (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 07.10.2021

Review for TOEM on Nintendo Switch

Graphic styles and colour have a massive impact on a game, and TOEM's developer and publisher Something We Made certainly made a bold statement by forgoing colour in its relaxed puzzle-adventure. The protagonist is sent on a journey with their family's encourage to experience the phenomena of TOEM, an experience that is precisely what the player undergoes. Setting out with a trusty camera that has a zoom feature, there is much to explore and discover in this, far from dull, black and white world, where many people are in need of help.

Commencing in the protagonist's hometown, the tutorial part of TOEM is smoothly executed. Learning how to move, and more importantly, how to take photos, almost everything about gameplay is explored in the first area. Taking photos is the matter of a simple button click - two if a self-portrait. The easy-to-use zoom feature is later enhanced by using a tripod to take photos that can be placed in a position that is much further from the picture, ideal when large scale photos are needed for quests. When not in camera mode the game's camera can be moved about in most directions, plus it has an effective zoom system so the whole section of an area can be seen on screen, useful for seeing where to go next.

Zooming in can focus closely on the protagonist, making it easier to see the smaller details that can't be as easily seen when the camera pans out. Later on there are times where making a noise when using a tool within camera mode is needed to progress past an otherwise blocked path - this feature is self-explanatory. The tutorial also teaches that presents, items contained in a giant box with bow, are scattered throughout the world, and usually have clothing items that have a useful function, either for the player (are visibly seen when worn), or are needed for an NPC request.

Screenshot for TOEM on Nintendo Switch

Camera settings are best explored at the start: there is a highly convenient feature that shows whether the subject of the photo has been added to the camera compendium, a book with dozens of creatures waiting to be added to its pages. Keeping the feature turned off will increase the difficulty of this gentle title, whereas keeping it on makes it easier to see what needs a photo taken, although seeing several ticks when there are multiple items in one shot can be distracting. Compendium images are automatically catalogued. It is then down to the user whether to keep the photo in the one hundred and twenty-eight photo-album. This amount initially sounds a lot, but the pages soon fill up, and it feels like a missed opportunity for album upgrades when the story progresses to a new region. Throughout the world there are places to frame favourite photos, and they can be liked within the album and even given titles, a feature that is needed in one particular quest, so favourite photos can be both saved and used.

Of course, it is entirely possible to meander semi-aimlessly in TOEM's world, sitting in the myriad of seats available in each region, and observing the wildlife and residents who can act quite differently when the camera is out. However, progress and direction on what needs photographing is given through the community card, a vital aspect of TOEM. It is where requests are placed, often for taking a specific image. Sometimes it can be tricky to get the exact angle of the photo's subject for it to be accepted as correct, which proves a little irritating when over a dozen photos of the subject have to be taken to meet the precise requirement.

Screenshot for TOEM on Nintendo Switch

The majority of requests are straightforward, and the feeling of joy when one is crossed off on the community card should not be underestimated. The resulting stamp can be placed anywhere on the card, either in neat rows or random patterns. Once a certain number of stamps are accrued in each area, a bus ticket is made available at the bus station, permitting access to the next area. Areas can be returned to at any time, so it does not matter if some quests are not completed on the first trip. Some requests are set by the Photo Challenger Guild, an organisation that enjoys creating quite obscure tasks that need all the listed parts to be met before acknowledging task completion.

There are several Guild challenges in each area, some being quite literal in their meaning, and others far more abstract. The Guild headquarters can be visited which has a gallery of finished challenges. The guild are not the only ones with a headquarters and tricky tasks. Somewhere in each area a periscope will pop up and ask for an image of a distinctly creepy looking figure from that region. The secretive organisation can be explored late game, although what happens when all the sightings are recorded is unknown, as during the review playthrough not all were found despite looking hard for a long time.

Screenshot for TOEM on Nintendo Switch

Little is straightforward in TOEM. Throughout the world there are curious cubes which when a photo is taken they interact with the environment, usually helping out an NPC with a problem. The first time it happens is a great surprise, and what each cube does varies drastically. Additionally, there are monsters that need to be found in four areas, including one that seems to be based on the real-life mythical monster Nessie who resides in a Scottish lake.

Sadly, there are no console specific achievements to be gained on Switch, which, considering the collective nature of it, is a missed opportunity for spending extra time searching for some extremely unusual pictures that other console versions provide. Equally unfortunate is the fact that, once the game was completed, several errors occurred during the review play which may since have been fixed with updates. It crashed randomly, and had to be exited without saving. Despite having plenty of room left in the album, any photo taken couldn't be added it. It gave the option of saving to the album with the standard 'yes/no' option, but on selecting 'yes,' it autosaved and remained on that selection page. Returning to the album showed no photo had been added, making it impossible to cross off remaining unfulfilled community card quests.

Screenshot for TOEM on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

End of game issues aside TOEM is a delightful, relaxed, monochrome game on Nintendo Switch. The music is peaceful, and favourite tracks can be listened to at any point, making it an ideal break from a busy life. The interesting characters provide a lot of laughs with their bizarre requests, cataloguing all the creatures brings its own amusement like watching a snail win a race against itself, and there is so much humour that the absence of colour is not noticed or missed.

Developer

Something We Made

Publisher

Something We Made

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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