I came to play Toki Tori 2+ with no preconceived ideas about what the game would be like and, with no instructions or tutorial to speak of, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was when I started to play. You see, whilst I’d heard of the original Toki Tori, I’d never spent any time with it.
A platformer? Certainly – you direct the main character, a plump yellow chick from left to right along the screen, up and down ladders and up small steps. But no jump ability quickly makes you realise that there is more to it as some parts of the world are seemingly inaccessible. The A and B buttons cause the chick to sing notes and bash the ground respectively. Their function only becomes clear when you come across other characters that inhabit the colourful environment. By experimenting with the controls you will soon learn how these simple moves are used to interact with the other characters. For example if there is a gap that you can’t cross then sing to a crab that lives in a wooden crate and it will scuttle towards you to fill the gap; bash the ground and it will move away. These controls interact differently with each character – bash the ground near a frog and it will burp to produce a bubble which surrounds you so you can float to higher platforms.
As with other platformers, you move through the levels passing through checkpoints until you reach the gate at the end. From here you can see the world map and the location of all the gates. Along the way you also reach beacons that you light up and these can also be seen on the map – the function of these you don’t find out until later.
In fact, it is as you go through the game that more and more things get revealed. What starts off seemingly like a simple platform game slowly reveals itself as a devious little puzzle experience and it dawns on you that things aren’t going to be quite as simple as you first thought. You will spend a lot of time experimenting to first decide what you need to do in order to progress and then work out how you can use the creatures to help you do it. Things can get frustrating at times, especially when, in order to solve a puzzle, you find something out by complete accident. Water makes grass grow – just one tip from me to you.
Occasionally you will come across a small white bird who teaches you tunes that you can sing by making long and short notes. Each tune has a different function. You can call on a camera to take snaps of the flora and fauna which are displayed in a photo album, and spending time collecting all of them gains an achievement.
Another song allows you to restart the level at the last checkpoint – useful if you find yourself, quite literally in a hole you cannot escape from – and you can also set up your own checkpoints before you get to a tricky puzzle (although only after you have failed once already).
Later in Toki Tori 2+ you will learn how to call on the services of an eagle which swoops down and carries you into the sky where you can see the world map. From here you can choose to return to any of the lit-up beacons, making this more open-world than most platformers. The only problem with this is that for a lot of the time I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go next. There are clues, although they are too subtle for me for the most part.
Even whilst in the levels I wasn’t always entirely sure if I should be going left or right. Although, saying that, my sense of direction is not the best; what I really needed was a sat-nav in the game to provide the same support as I need when travelling in real-life. I guess this was provided in a small amount by the little white bird who does occasionally pop up and fly in the correct direction – I just needed him to help out a whole lot more.
As the functionality of Toki Tori 2+ slowly reveals itself, so does the storyline, such as it is. Weird black smoke occasionally shoots out of the ground. You find a village full of similar-looking chicks who enter a transparent sphere and float off into the sky, leaving you the task of finding numerous giant orange frogs that are scattered across the world. As with the majority of the puzzles, this does not make a whole lot of sense at first, but stick with it and you will eventually be rewarded.
The graphics and overall design are pleasantly cartoon-like, with plenty to see both in the foreground and background and they help to bring the game environment alive. And these environments are reasonably diverse too – you find yourself in forests, mountains, villages and caves. The caves are the only ones that offers different gameplay as you will find yourself in darkness where different creatures are lurking. Many of these are either activated or inactivated by the light so many of the puzzles down there require you to lure luminescent creatures to your side to help you out. The music and audio as a whole is unobtrusive and adds to the atmosphere – with the former changing style when danger lurks around the corner.
There is plenty to keep a puzzle fan happy in the world of Toki Tori 2+. The difficult gameplay and sheer number of locations to visit will keep you entertained for a pleasant few hours. However, expect to be confused more than once – even a cute, fluffy chick can’t soothe the soul of a frustrated gamer for long.
Massive thanks to: Two Tribes
Release date: February 2018
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review), Xbox One, PS4, PC