Trips down memory lane are filled with pop up books. There is just something inherently interesting, and mechanically satisfying about the way they are created and function, much like video games themselves. But what happens when you when you take those two concepts of old and new, and make them one? You get the wonderfully stylized world of Tengami.
Tengami (Wii U, PC, iOS )
Reviewed: Wii U (Review Copy Received)
Released: November 13, 2014 (Wii U)
MSRP:$9.99 (Wii U) TBA (PC) $4.99 (iOS)
Tengami’s art style is similar to that of a snow flake. If you are zoomed out it looks similar to many design choices of games around it, but when you zoom in, you can see a world of difference and complex structures. Themed after Edo Period Japan, much of the Architecture seen holds true to the design principles of the time, locking in a theme of understandable complexity. This compliments the overall popup book art style and game play very well.
Sometimes simple is key when presenting a game like this. Similar to the point and click adventures of old; Tengami is completely controlled with the stylist. Taping or Sliding your stylus on the Wii U Gamepad to move your character and interact with objects or scenery is very easy and simply laid out for the player without a hand holding tutorial, instead using the game play to point the player in the right direction. The addition of the optional objective to find 10 stickers scattered through the game, is also well implemented and helps draw your eyes into the graphical details of the world. But it is not without its hiccups. Toward the end of the game, you are presented with a mechanic idea that is way more complex than any of the other puzzles presented before. This could have been explained better to the player through the addition of a couple more and much needed puzzles, as the game feels a bit too short.
The story is much like a haiku, short and left to interpretation. This is where the game is lacking the most. You get a simple and vague intro that could have been fleshed out more to relate the player to the journey of the character they are controlling. This really hurts the overall potential of the game because it boils down to, “Why am I looking for Sakura Flowers?” when it could be using the wonderful world they have designed for something more.
Music and Sound:
This is an area that Tengami excels at, going hand in hand with the games over all graphic style and presentation. Sounds are Spot on for the world, and the Music is relaxing and works well with the overtone of the game, bringing a calming and atmospheric feeling. They know when to invoke silence, and when to break it. This shows great potential on the part of developer, Nyamyam.
Even without a strong story, the parts all seem to fit together perfectly. Graphics, Gameplay, Music and Sound greatly make up for the lack in story, when looking at the sum that is Tengami. Nothing is out of place in this game, even the optional Stickers that are scattered throughout the world. This makes for an experience that flows with water, and is simply relaxing.