TOEM is such a delight! Grab your backpack, your Hikelady (as opposed to walkman) and your camera, say goodbye to Nana and hit the road to Toem! Your journey will take you through multiple regions, with creatures to capture in your album and people with quandaries and queries to solve. Maybe you’ll even get to capture the elusive Nessy on your adventure. So, let’s hop on the bus and go!
TOEM is a photo-taking game where your primary goal is to help the community. With your trusty community card in hand, you will wander around the streets of each region, helping people out by taking photos. This will range from taking a photo of something fluffy to solving the mystery of the suspicious character lurking in each region. And what’s the deal with those cubes?
When you complete a quest, you’ll be rewarded with a stamp for your community card. I found placing stamps wherever I liked on the card very satisfying. It’s a great way of feeling completion from a quest. Once you gain enough stamps, you can get a free bus ticket to your next destination.
I loved the world of TOEM, though it isn’t without its bugs. I ended up stuck in a platform at one point, but the devs are so friendly, and they helped me out on release day! It was really lovely to see how invested in the game and their community they are. They’ve also implemented a workaround for the issue now, so if you find yourself stuck in TOEM, click on “Help! I can’t move!” from the menu.
The only thing that I think would have improved my experience with TOEM is a map. The game is in greyscale, and sometimes areas can look very similar. For one quest, I was searching in every nook and cranny for something, only to realise I was in the wrong region! Fortunately, each region isn’t that big, but I did find myself lost occasionally.
Art and audio
As mentioned, TOEM is in greyscale. Unlike Chicory, you don’t colour the world here. It stays greyscale, perhaps to imitate black and white photography. I didn’t find myself missing colour in TOEM; the style is so charming and feels like a black and white comic. The characters are well designed and full of personality, so it’s hard to forget who gave you your quest with the likes of a ghost horse among the lineup.
The sound effects in TOEM are outstanding! The amount of detail they’ve gone to is incredible. Early on in the game, you find a pair of clogs; once equipped, every single step sounds like clogs. This goes for any pair of shoes you wear. It’s not something that is needed, but I definitely appreciated and enjoyed it.
The soundtrack is also fantastic. As you travel through the regions, you’ll get new tracks to play on your Hikelady. Some of them will automatically play when in certain areas of the game, but you have the option of playing and stopping them through the Hikelady menu. It’s full of chill vibes, which match the game perfectly.
It might be a strange comparison to make, but TOEM feels like a combination of A Short Hike and Celeste to me, except without the challenging platforming of either. I’m sure many people will see the similarities to A Short Hike, but Celeste isn’t so obvious. Obviously, they’re both named after a mountain (yes, Celeste is the mountain, not the character), but I think it’s the character voices for me. They just give me that Celeste vibe. I love both games, so it’s nice to have something feel similar without the difficulty of platforming.
TOEM is so great! It’s the first game in a long time where I took the time to 100% the achievements. I wanted to make sure I experienced every little thing the game had to offer. After watching streams, I realised I still missed some things; there is just so much packed into this little game!
2021 has been a big year for photo-taking games, and while all of them have been lovely so far, I think TOEM is the winner for me.
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Platforms: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch & Playstation
Genre: Adventure, puzzle, exploration, point & click