Do you like the dark? Not the scary darkness in creepy movies. I would say more of that 2 am, walking around on the outskirts of a city type darkness. If you are picking up what I am saying then Toby: The Secret Mine might be the game for you. Toby TSM is a LImbo/Inside esk style of game with a dark art style and no vocal narrative. As I started to play the game I even tried to go left (first achievement you can get in Limbo) just out of curiosity on how similar these games may be. No cheeve sorry folks.
As I dove into the game, I found it easier than I thought it would be at first. The “puzzles” in this platformer hybrid game were easy to solve and where I died and failed in games like Limbo and Inside once or twice in the opening scenes, I got through the first 6 levels quickly and without dying or really having to do much work. I did however miss some hidden friends (collectibles) due to not realizing how the game hides things inside the dark landscapes.
Unlike the games I listed above (LImbo and Inside in case you forgot or were skimming and stopped here to read cause you like parentheses) Toby doesn’t tell a story through the landscape. Instead it is used against you, hiding collectables, danger, and shortcuts to your destination. At first I found this to be an annoyance but after more time in game, I found it to be an exciting piece of level design. LIke games before it, the game is hiding its true self from me to make it more menacing and difficult. Once you learn what to look for like moveable structures, hidden doors in weirdly placed buildings, and crackling noises that tell you the ground beneath you can be broken to reveal a hidden tunnel the game became easier to traffic on the higher levels.
Top 5 on the Plus Side:
- Level design is very creative and makes you really search the levels even though they aren’t very big.
- Art style makes the game and its collectibles very enjoyable
- Short and fun experience
- Creative puzzles that are accessible to those who play few puzzle games and can still be fun for those who play a lot
- Doesn’t punish you for mistakes like some games do (Inside I am looking at you)
Some things that need Improvement:
- Though my interpretation of the story was good, I’m not sure everyone out there has a creative, make your own side story as they go type of imagination. If you tend to be more literal in your experiences of games, maybe thing twice on this one.
- Sound design has some good moments, but in my opinion was lacking. There are some good moments, just would of loved to hear more from the levels based of the character and where he/she/it was standing.
- Collectible level tracking would have made the 1000 on this game so much more enjoyable. Though it isn’t a huge problem as the game does track the collectables in the top right corner in game, you don’t know which one you
Toby: The Secret Mine Score
All in all this is a really fun experience to be had. I found myself thinking about playing when I was at school and would come home, jump into a level and get 10-15 minutes in before I would work on lesson plans or spend time with the family. Though the game is short, took maybe 1-2 hours to complete and on my second play through to cheeve hunt took me less than an hour.
This game has a unique art style, good level design, and innovative puzzles. If that sounds like something you would enjoy then I hope this review helps you decide to play Toby: The Secret Mine.