Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this installment, we’re covering TOEM: A Photo Adventure by developer Something We Made.
TOEM: A Photo Adventure: (The Explanation)
TOEM: A Photo Adventure was recently released on Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Macintosh operating systems, PlayStation 5. TOEM reminded me of games like A Short Hike, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, and Beasts of Maravilla Island. You play as a young child set off on an adventure to uncover the mysterious TOEM after your mother gives you her camera and a short tutorial sequence on how to use it, your journey begins.
The world of TOEM takes place over six areas many of which have multiple branching and connecting paths. Within each area, you visit you will come across NPCs that will task you with objective usually amounting to finding a certain item, person, or animal and bringing it to them, or a photo you will need to capture. TOEM’s world was inspired by the Scandinavian Landscapes and its inhabitants’ gibberish ‘Animal Crossing-like’ voices capture that inspiration well.
Each quest you are given is logged on your Community Card. Progressing through the story requires that you obtain a set number of stamps to move on, stamps are easy to come by in the casually paced game. Armed first with just a camera, you eventually gain some upgrades, such as a tripod for taking stationary photos that you can also easily be in, and a horn, which has multiple uses, one of which is scaring birds away.
Navigating the world of TOEM is done with the Left Stick, and though the game looks to be a top-down isometric game, the Right Stick does allow for some turning of the camera. You will need to turn the camera to find hidden objects and presents, which usually hold hats, glasses, or shoes to dress your character in. The X button brings up your camera. Within the camera you can opt-out with B, Zoom with R, and Flip the camera around for a selfie with X. Eventually you can use A to honk your horn and ZR to take a snapshot. Snapshots are saved to your album.
As you aim your camera around the world, objects will have a small box outline around them. This is helpful when searching for specific things, like the many different types of animals you can find to complete your album, as well as identifying that certain objects or characters are in your viewfinder before taking a photo. Photos themselves are not rated, like in New Pokemon Snap, so you don’t need to worry too much about composition and if the character is in full view or framed properly.
There is an air of sweet tenderness within TOEM that most resemble the light-hearted nature of A Short Hike. The neighbors you meet have funny dialogue and interesting bits about the world slowly unveil themselves in the game’s 2 ½ to 3-hour campaign. If you are looking for a short game that is wholesome and enjoyable, TOEM is a great pick-up.
TOEM: A Photo Adventure: (The Gameplay)
Developer: Something We Made
Publisher: Something We Made
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Indie, Adventure, Puzzle
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: September 17, 2021 (EU & NA)
File Size: 408 MB