Quick Look – TOEM

TOEM combines puzzle solving with photography game mechanics, and is one of the two things I was most excited about in December’s Humble Monthly. It does have a relatively short play time of about three hours and has a regular retail price of $19.99.

When I played the demo of TOEM a while back, I was expecting more of a straight-up photography game rather than a puzzle adventure, and I was a bit disappointed by it. However, something about it stuck with me, and I added it to my wish list around the time it released – I enjoy a good puzzle adventure, and I realized I would probably feel quite differently about it if I had gone in with appropriate expectations. In fact, I nearly picked it up during the Steam Autumn sale, so I was quite pleased to see it in the December Humble Monthly.

You play as a small critter who is leaving home to travel for the very first time. You take your backpack and a camera and little else – in fact, you need to earn your bus far by collection stamps from locals by helping them with their troubles. In each stop throughout your journey, there are no shortage of problems that need solving by someone with a vintage camera with dynamic zoom!

It is not necessary to solve every issue in every location in order to proceed through the game – in fact, in each place I’ve stopped, you only need to do about half of them to earn your next bus ticket. However, stamps aren’t your only reward for lending a hand – you will also earn clothing items (some of which are important as they unlock other opportunities during game play) and upgrades for your camera.

TOEM isn’t a particular difficult game, but it’s got a lot of charm, and that’s what it most likely to make you want to keep playing. While you will need to take a lot of pictures for other people, you have lots of space in your photo album for anything that might catch your eye. While there are plenty of things no one will ask you to photograph, many of the interesting things you’ll encounter will trigger some in-game achievements.

I’ve probably gotten through a little less than half the game, and while I don’t expect it to have a whole bunch of replayability, it is the kind of game I love to see in a bundle. I think if I had paid full price for this one, I would have been disappointed – it doesn’t feel like there’s enough meat to it to merit a $20 price tag.

I’m also not sure I’d advise picking up this month’s Humble Choice exclusively for TOEM, but if there’s even one other game you’re excited about, and you like puzzle games, it’s absolutely worth your time to take it for a spin.

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