by Marjolein Verheij
reviewed on PC
On your own
No start screen, no intro, no narrative, no explanations, no hand-holding. Toki Tori 2+ is not the easiest to get into. You might say that developer Two Tribes took something of a risk “dumping” players straight into the game without even so much as a tutorial. The story is told through the puzzles that you solve and things that happen around you while you are playing. You might miss it entirely if you are not paying attention to things like black smoke suddenly bursting out of the ground halfway through the first level or the golden frog that you apparently need to save the world. Toki Tori 2+ leaves a lot to your own imagination, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Toki Tori 2+ is an improved port from the original Wii U game Toki Tori 2. The + indicates the addition of a level editor that is included in this game which lets you create and share your self-made levels via the Steam Workshop.
Right from the get go, you are dropped into a colourful world. A frog leaps around your feet, a little bird flies over your head and you yourself are represented as a yellow egg-shaped bird with a considerable handicap: you cannot fly. It gets worse as this is one of the few platform games where you can’t jump and you soon find out that all you are able to do is stomp and whistle. Instead, you use the environment and enlist the creatures that live in your world to help you get where you want to go. Using your whistle and stomp you can attract or repel frogs, bugs, birds, porcupines and more. Crabs that live in boxes can help you cross gaps, bubbles that frogs blow can carry you up to higher up platforms, big blue birds will pick you up so you can soar up high to their nests and glowing butterflies will save you from evil looking masks in dark tunnels and dungeons.
Trial and error is the name of this game, and you will need lots and lots of patience to time your actions perfectly. Even if you have figured out how to get across a gap, up a ledge, or past an obstacle, it is getting all the creatures and elements in the right place at the right time that requires minute planning. A frog might jump off a ledge too early or a bird might pick you up too late and you would have to start all over again. You’ll die over and over but regular checkpoints will make sure you won’t have to start a level from the beginning every time you do.
There are ‘secret’ whistles to help you along. One rewinds you to a prior checkpoint, another gives you a camera to take pictures of the creatures around you and fill your Toki Tori 2+ scrapbook.
The game feels a little linear in the beginning, forcing you to finish levels and follow set paths, but before long the world map opens up, allowing for more flexibility. There is a secret whistle that conjures up an eagle that carries you high above the map from where you can replay previous levels through glowing portal stones that are present in each level. Some levels have multiple exits and while you play and learn new ways to control your surroundings, you might be able to find that second exit in that level you thought you had already finished. To speed things up, a mole will dig tunnels through completed levels so that you can quickly bypass any puzzles that you have already solved during a previous run.
I often found myself stuck in a puzzle and growing more and more frustrated by the amount of times I let Toki die through miscalculation. I stepped away from the PC more than once, only to figure out a solution to a puzzle while watching TV and to rush back to the game and try out my theory. Sure, it took me a little longer to actually get the pieces together but it does illustrate how much Toki Tori 2+ will grab hold of you. The game won’t give you the same puzzle twice and remains charming and fresh throughout.
Despite the simple gameplay mechanics, Toki Tori 2+ can be pretty darn unforgiving. You will have to look very closely to catch all the little hints that the game dishes out. It caused me no small amount of frustration to realise that I had missed a vital part of the gameplay by not being observant enough. Once I had seen the light the game became much more fun – though still frustratingly difficult at times. This high difficulty level is compounded by a total lack of guidance. I am sure that puzzle pros won’t mind this at all, and love the fact that they get to figure everything out by themselves. Less experienced players might take Toki Tori 2+’s cutesy graphics and cheerful music as a sign that it is an easily accessible game and may end up so frustrated by the tougher puzzles that they leave, never to return.
That would be shame though. Once you have figured out what the game expects of you, it is hugely addictive. Toki Tori 2+ is a brilliant, charming puzzle platformer that will keep you entertained (though frustrated) for hours. And without the hand-holding, solving those tough puzzles is all the more rewarding.
No hand-holding, no linear gameplay, plenty of variation in puzzles.
No guidance whatsoever which can cause newbies to leave this game early.