When I first saw Tohu, I was immediately enamored with its cute, cartoony art style. It had also been a while since I played a point-and-click adventure game, so I figured this would be a good one to satisfy that craving. However, the appetizer I was presented with left me no better off than where I was before I dove in.
Tohu places you in the role of a girl tasked with discovering the truth about herself and the world in which she lives. Across the 2-3-hour experience, you’ll journey to a diverse variety of fish planets in order to obtain whatever MacGuffin it is you’re looking for at that moment. In each of these worlds, you’ll encounter a suite of puzzles to solve that will serve to open your path forward, if only by a little.
If there’s one thing I really love about Tohu, it’s the art style. It’s incredibly cute and lends itself well to the strange, mechanical environments through which you’ll travel. The only place it really gets in the way is during your flight between fish planets. This time is used for exposition, which is often told via on-screen text. Unfortunately, this text appears in a faint white color, which against the grayish-blue background can be hard to see.
As a point-and-click game, the controls are fairly simple. You move a cursor around the screen with the control stick and interact with things with the A button. The Y button allows you to swap characters on a whim, while the X button opens your inventory, from which you can drag items into the environment to use them. These controls worked well enough, but this is one game I’d recommend playing in handheld mode with the touchscreen. The touchscreen is incredibly responsive and makes some actions, such as rotating discs, much easier and less awkward. Even so, using standard controls isn’t too bad.
At any point, you’ll be able to swap between two characters, each with unique abilities. As The Girl, your small stature and lightweight frame allow you to squeeze into tight spaces and climb on objects. At the press of a button, you can swap to Cubus, a hulking robot whose strength allows you to carry heavy objects. Many of the game’s puzzles revolve around these abilities, so if you wind up getting stuck, it’s worth seeing what you can do with the other character. Generally, the puzzles aren’t too difficult though.
The biggest source of frustration I have with Tohu lies within its hint system. Each screen in the game has an unlockable hint panel that will practically give you a step-by-step guide to accomplish your current objective. Ideally, you’ll not need to use this, as it often gives too much information away and takes the fun out of solving things on your own. My main gripe with this system, however, is how you unlock it.
To utilize the hints, you’ll play a brief minigame in which you have to press four red buttons with a moving arrow. Aside from the fact that this minigame never changes throughout the game and gets incredibly old very quickly, the physics of the game feel a little off. It seems as though sometimes the arrow hits slightly left or right of where it’s aiming, which can easily result in you hitting the wrong button. And every time you hit a wrong button, the entire thing resets.
On numerous occasions, I spent at least five minutes trying to unlock the blasted thing, when the process should take no more than 30 seconds, if that. Even after unlocking the hint screen once, I’d occasionally go back to look at the next step only to find out that it decided to re-lock, forcing me to play the stupid minigame again. I never figured out exactly what caused this, but it happened enough where I began to think the game took pleasure in tormenting me.
The other major issue I had was that I found it was pretty easy to break the game. On three or four occasions, I was able to lock myself out of interacting with anything. In one case, somehow I was able to zoom in on a screen my character wasn’t on, and in another, I somehow switched characters just before the screen transitioned. Luckily, Tohu features a generous auto-save system, and in every case, I was able to reload the last save and carry on.
Late in the game, I also had trouble interacting with some essential items. I’m not sure exactly why these bugs happened either, nor do I know how I managed to fix them, but when I did, there were items jumping halfway across screen in an instant.
While it doesn’t stand out from other point-and-click adventure titles, Tohu is still a decent, if not short, entry in the genre. The puzzles are challenging enough to keep you entertained, while also not being too tough. Tohu‘s art style is cute and meshes well with the quirky nature of the game’s universe. However, there are a few aspects (specifically with the hint system) that could’ve been handled much better and wound up making me overly frustrated.
There’s not enough here for me to feel comfortable recommending Tohu at full price. If you’re really itching to play a point-and-click adventure and can get a great deal on it, it’s worth a look. Outside of that, you’re not missing anything if you choose to skip it.
A review code was provided by the publisher.