On its surface, Treasure Adventure World seems like an extraordinary generic experience. It’s a puzzle platformer with an emphasis on exploration, a few extremely varied locations and requires you to unlock abilities to uncover new areas. All you need is to mention Mario, and it would sound like something from the SNES era. However, the game quickly proves to be far more than just the sum of its parts. Furthermore, while its essential component mechanics are borderline archaic, it uses them so well you can often end up forgetting that little detail.
The story follows Peep, a figure who is suffering from amnesia. With one hook for a hand and a parrot at his side, it’s your job to rediscover his past and explore the island he has washed up on.
The immediate point which works in this game’s favour is scale. The initial island alone will see you running back and forth across it, finding new challenges and discoveries with every development. While part of this is down to how the Metroidvania-esque quest progress, a major factor stems from how the game stages and structures them. It opposes the Elder Scrolls style expanse in favour of something which is open but carefully layered. This avoids creasing the sense that the world is shallow for all its immensity, and the colourful nature of the NPCs only further benefits this aspect. This isn’t simply a case of a few generally palette swaps wandering about the world, as each has a distinct visual and verbal quirk to make them stand out.
The puzzles themselves rely heavily on personal ingenuity and creative thinking to overcome. While a fair number still feature the usual “use item here to overcome obstacle” logic, the combinations and use of the environment gives it more of an edge over similar experiences. The use of environmental elements in particular can often end up completely altering how you would expect to resolve a puzzle, or the various uses of a single item. As for the broader equipment, however, this isn’t simply a Zelda situation of one tool for one job. You can end up using everything from a screwdriver to an assembled diving suit to complete the tasks at hand, and as a result it rarely feels repetitive despite its length.
However, Treasure Adventure World does suffer from something of a slow burn. It can take up to three hours to really get into it, and in that time you can quite easily write it off as a simple casual timewaster. It’s only once you start to move past the introductory phase and utilise various environmental elements that it starts to truly come to life. Furthermore, the open world design and drive to utilise backtracking means that you can end up dragging out certain quests. You will rarely have the right tools for the right job to finish any series of objectives in one go, leaving you with a few dozen quests active at a time. This means that there are multiple points where it can seem as if you are making very little progress despite your efforts.
The controls themselves are unusually floaty and lack the sort of tension and precision you would hope for. This leads to more than a few frustrating segments with metal hoops quite late on, which require pinpoint accuracy to properly pull off. In of itself that wouldn’t be overly bad, but it also affects the combat. This is easily the weakest part of the overall game as, while it tries to remain inventive, Treasure Adventure World’s fights typically use extremely simple attack patterns. It’s to the point that fights against gigantic snake monsters can end up feeling like games of whack a mole.
Treasure Adventure World is a definite success for all its problems. While it does require patience early on, it nevertheless offers a brilliant variety of puzzles, challenges and new areas to explore. Any genre fan who simply enjoys wandering the land in order to find something new should definitely give this one a look.
TREASURE ADVENTURE WORLD / DEVELOPER: ROBIT GAMES / PUBLISHER: CHUCKLEFISH / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW