The Girl, together with her mechanical alter-ego Cubus, has to save her world by finding the missing pieces of the Sacred Engine that has been damaged by a mysterious cloaked figure.
The story starts out simple and it remains that way, so anyone expecting an epic quest with lots of twists and turns might be disappointed. However, as soon as one has to restore a totem by finding missing parts that are held by various keepers on their respective planets, things get more interesting.
The Girl’s background story and her connection to the Cubus stay mysterious, but the more one talks with the individual planet inhabitants, the more one learns about each totem keeper and how they’re related to the worlds’ balance. So while one feels slightly detached to the main protagonist(s), one still cares for their quest and embraces the planets’ uniqueness. The very touching ending with a surprising twist make the journey all the more worthwhile.
Bizarre worlds and creatures
The worlds one visits are unique. Being populated by imaginative creatures, some of which can be clicked on and memorized for a photo album collection, each fish planet also has some truly memorabe characters. These aren’t too creepy for a younger audience, which is probably because there’s a lot of quirky humor as well.
Lots of co-op puzzles
Many puzzles require teamwork or rather switching between the Girl and Cubus forms. The former can climb objects or crawl through tight spaces, in addition to talking to NPCs. The latter does the heavy lifting of objects. Solving various conundrums in this way makes for the best moments.
Imaginative and not so original conundrums
Some of the puzzles are quite original, e.g. traveling back in time or making Cubus win a contest of brain and brawn against his mirror counterpart. In each new location one is faced with varied mission goals, e.g. turning a not so frightening pet of an old woman into a more intimidating dragon.
Unfortunately more than enough puzzles are too familiar to seasoned adventure gamers: guiding a light through adjustable lenses, putting gears in the correct positions to make a mechanism work, rerouting pipes, rolling a ball through a maze or filling containers that can only hold a specific amount of liquid to achieve 4 liters of oil.
Time for despair
The worst puzzles are those that require fast reflexes and hand-eye-coordination. In an admittedly interesting twist on the whack-a-mole game, one has to move the Girl’s head from hole to hole avoiding multiple hammers, which becomes increasingly difficult the faster the game becomes. The same holds true for a very annoying cutting-the-right-wire puzzle in which one has a very short timeframe to follow each connection, with every failure resulting in the random placement of them next time.
In general, the puzzles could have used more fine-tuning, as can be seen with some requiring to push or pull things multiple times to work, to create shadow images by making pixel-perfect adjustments, to endure an unnecessary stealth section involving a magnet to hang on to and objects to interact with, only without much time for experimentation or thinking.
Helping hands letting loose
While the objectives are always clear thanks to a logbook with hints, one can still become stuck at times. Receiving further hints or even a correct solution to the current problem or screen is made overly complicated by tasking the player to do an annoying mini-game that involves pressing buttons at the right time. To make matters worse, some items can be easily overlooked, as they can’t be distinguished from the background.
Wonderfully weird presentation
The bizarre characters and detailed backgrounds feature some great hand-drawn art, with the cute animations being particularly good. While there isn’t any dialogue between the characters, the voice acting of the narrator is very good. The music is varied and atmospheric, although one won’t remember any particular parts afterwards.
Old-school puzzler in a memorable world
TOHU looks and sounds great, and even if it doesn’t tell the most compelling story, one still wants to visit each new planet just to see what weird characters and puzzles it has. Unfortunately it’s here where the game doesn’t quite find the right balance, as the conundrums are often too run-of-the-mill and even frustrating at times, making the playtime of 4-5 hours an exercise in patience. Still, if one perseveres, one will be rewarded with a highly imaginative world to become lost in.
Buy the game for PS4 on
the PSN store
Buy the game for Xbox One on
the Xbox store
Buy the game for Nintendo Switch on
the Nintendo eShop