Puzzling doesn’t get cuter than this.Some time in the dark, distant past I remember a great puzzle game called Lode Runner. It was a fun little puzzler that required you climb up ladders and then fall and drill downwards to grab gems. Toki Tori 2+ reminds me of this. You control the chick, Toki Tori, through a world where bad things are happening. He’s a round fuzzball that can’t fly or jump making this a platform-puzzler that really forces you to think outside of the box.
Toki Tori inhabits a beautiful island made up of wildlife and natural barriers. All of these elements help and hinder you in unique ways by learning the behaviours of the various creatures that you encounter. For instance, one of the early encounters that you have is with a crab in a box. You have just two abilities in Toki Tori 2+: whistle and stomp. If you whistle, the crab scurries towards you and if you stomp it gets frightened and runs away from you. You can use this mechanic to use the crabs as platforms to shift the levels around. The creatures become more varied and behave in very different ways, challenging you to think of new ways to approach them and, more importantly, rethink how they interact with each other as well.
It’s an incredibly fulfilling way of advancing and you are treated to some gorgeous and uniquely designed lands as your journey progresses. You may come across a problem that you simply cannot work out the solution to because the pieces are spread out across a sizable scrolling screen. But as you encounter the smaller elements in other locations you begin to understand that your abilities aren’t the whistle and stomp per se. The way you can use these two moves to control your environment starts to become second nature instead, and suddenly the solutions you learn are the tools. It’s a very, very smart way of allowing you to learn, explore and progress in your own way. In fact it’s nothing short of brilliant.
This raises one of the most delightful aspects of the game. When you start off from the beginning you can potentially beat any puzzle that you are faced with. You “level up” by facing new and more challenging puzzles, giving you those “Aha!” moments. It’s Metroidvania in the loosest sense – you’re not prevented from progressing by power-ups but rather your own skill of solving the challenges, or discovering the key in the obscurity of the land.
Thankfully you are never stuck on a specific puzzle. The game sports a map screen, in which fast travel becomes a useful tool to get around. You can walk away from a mental roadblock and come back at another time while you explore other areas of the island. I promise you there will be those times. For all of the cute, charming whimsy that Toki Tori 2+ delivers, there are some devious Rube Goldberg-esque solutions dotted around that will keep you experimenting and trying to solve over and over, delivering a real challenge for experienced gamers.
It’s a smart game wrapped up in a delightful, charming wrapper. Challenging though never infuriating, Toki Tori 2+ has a calm, sedate pace that encourages you to enjoy the game at a celerity that fits your own play style.