GAME REVIEW: TENGAMI / DEVELOPER: NYAMYAM / PUBLISHER: NYAMYAM / PLATFORM: WII U, PC, iOS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Available for some time on iOS devices, Tengami has finally made its way over to the Wii U and PC releases with some surprising hype for such a port. Having won multiple awards for its artistic direction and completion of background themes, the game’s major drive stems from its aesthetic rather than its mechanics. That will already put off many people, but as an alternative to the mass slaughter of moblins/mercenaries/generic-mooks it can provide an interesting change of pace.
Immediately one of the most interesting aspects of its aesthetic, and a detail core to its gameplay, it’s the presentation as a pop-up book, with the player traversing through paper environments. Throughout this they are encouraged to solve a variety of puzzles, folding the paper or altering their surroundings to progress onwards and see more of the world about them. This is set to the back-drop of Japanese mythology and folk tales, which help to give it a very distinct atmosphere. Much like Never Alone, this is just about enough to intrigue the right person despite the borderline bare-bones mechanics. In just about every respect it’s akin to the point and click games of yesteryear, just with a little less insane logic and far less inventory management.
Despite its very basic design, Tengami thankfully offers a wide variety of environments for its puzzles and the developers were keenly aware of what would be their greatest selling point. Backgrounds range from mountain waterfalls to dense forests giving a wide variety of settings to work through, and for its artists to work off of. It’s enough to offer a surprising variety of puzzles and to truly keep things alive by constantly shifting settings.
The unfortunate thing is that, for all that can be praised here, Tengami lacks the immersive qualities one would want. Many of the puzzles are surprisingly straight forwards with only a couple requiring true critical thinking, and can be breezed through during the first attempt. This means that the game all too often feels as if it’s all style and no substance, and thanks to this there is an inherent lack of replay value. It’s certainly not helped that many more recent titles such as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons have proven how to accomplish a unique artistic look while providing a fantastic story through its simple mechanics, and comparing the two makes it evident how much potential Tengami failed to meet.
This is one to be completed in an afternoon, relaxing and enjoyable but not engaging. Give it a look if you’re at all interested, but don’t set your expectations too high.
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