With its art style making use of shadow, minimalistic design for its 2D protagonist and with challenges more clever than they first appear, Toby: The Secret Mine feels like an indie platformer. We’ve had a lot of those on the Switch so far, with a lot of them coming up with the goods and giving themselves a permanent place in our collections. This game, from Headup Games, should be considered up there with the good ones.
Toby is a humanoid being with horns whose friends have been kidnapped by demonic-looking red-eyed villains. There are twenty-six of them strung up in bird cages across the game, and your side quest is to reach and release them, with a lot of them found in hidden alcoves and just out of sight of the beaten path. But the main mission is to negotiate the game’s puzzle-platforming sequences, with the slightest of touches to any of the game’s hazards resulting in Toby’s death. It’s a pretty forgiving game, usually respawning the player back at the most recent safe spot, but it does quietly record your death count to torment you with at the end.
Your inputs are fairly simple, with a jump button allowing you to make leaps between platforms and an action button for pulling levers. Toby moves at a very rigid and non-negotiable pace; there’s no sprint button, which does make the game feel pretty slow and plodding, but there is a reason for that, as many of the puzzles involve timed challenges like pendulum swinging circular saws and moving platforms which require precision in the timing of jumps in order to progress. There are also more intellectual puzzles, from tile-sliders to environmental conundrums where a code is displayed in the background a short while before you’ll need to enter it, so keep those eyes peeled.
The biggest criticism of Toby is his lethargically-slow speed, but towards the end of the game there is a mine-cart level which ups the pace dramatically. Still, the precision platforming and the emphasis on good timing does offer a decent amount of challenge, but even without following a guide you’re likely to have played through the whole story in around an hour. Difficulty is at a decent standard, but it’s not impassable for novice players.
Colour isn’t exactly showered across this game, but it is used in a way which gives clues towards danger. Spikes that you don’t want to collide with will be a much brighter colour than the dull black that the majority of the environment is presented in, but on the whole it’s darkness which is at the forefront of the presentation.
On the whole, Toby: The Secret Mine is a solid puzzle-platformer. It won’t live as long in the memory as some of the other examples of the genre we’ve seen on Switch so far, but it’s a pretty fun ride while it lasts.
Toby: The Secret Mine £7.99
Toby: The Secret Mine doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before, but it is a solid if slow-paced puzzle platformer. Pick it up.