We gamers are certainly unaware of how a title of worship is cloned at the exact moment in which it becomes a success. Think of so many “Simulator”, the clones of League of Legends and Overwatch . Sometimes the inspiration comes to propose something partially new, or worthy of attention. In other cases, there is not even the desire to propose something unpublished, and reaches the sense of deja vu inevitable.
This is the case with Toby: The Secret Mine , puzzle platformer with Lucas Navratil’s trial and error puzzles, a title that strongly remembers Limbo , and does little to depart from the well-known Playdead production.
Try it again
Toby: The Secret Mine came out two years ago on PC and Xbox One, and today it’s re-released on PlayStation 4, the version I’ve tested. The title immediately throws us in Toby’s dress, a monochrome creature designed in the same way as the Limbo boy , with the addition of a pair of horns.
Our protagonist immediately starts for a set adventure, so to speak: his village is attacked and the inhabitants abducted by a mysterious creature.
From here begins Toby’s story, which draws on 21 levels with environmental puzzles and areas to overcome by attempts, sometimes in the dark. You can jump, push elements of the scenario and activate mechanisms like levers or mysterious buttons, and little else. The fundamental difference with other exponents of its kind is that, often, puzzler solutions must be found literally at random.
A bit about the crypticity typical of these productions, a bit for puzzles that often hide the key elements in shadow areas, forcing you to get rid of almost accidentally at times, the gaming solutions proposed by the title do not shine exactly own light.
For the first part of the adventure, about twenty minutes, the game does nothing to put the player in trouble. The challenge is very low and, finding the key points of each puzzle, the first puzzles are very simple, complicating even generous checkpoints.
Things get worse after this first stage, because the difficulty rises vertiginously, with even frustrating moments due to classic solutions such as the need to make millimeter jumps, or to ring actions that include slinging the fingers on the pad. By good trial and error, there are some steps where it is impossible not to die to discover (or to guess) the enigma solution of that area. Bridges that collapse, monsters that suddenly appear, initially invisible traps,
If Toby: The Secret Mine does very little to distance itself from Limbo in terms of gameplay, a slight effort has been made for the aesthetic appearance of production. In this case the colors are present, and the general atmosphere is not as obscure and overwhelming as for the Playdead title.
Paradoxically, this may be the problem, because it is impossible to get attached to Toby, as well as being dragged from any narrative system, a suggested emotion to the player, or anything else. Even when the title tests, the dive is interrupted by an enemy launching a bomb out of nowhere, a fast laser, or one of the many impervious and devastating challenges in puzzles.
It is not a crime to copy, however, if you can pull out something special and unique, or something in general. It’s not that Toby: The Secret Mine does not have the atmosphere, it does not give the player a little excitement, or anyhow entertain it for a very short duration (about three hours), is that all but unfortunately he knows already seen, and not even a little.
If Limbo came out last week it would have been another pair of sleeves, but in 7 years of such jigsaw puzzles of such a kind are seen too many, and productions like Typoman have at least tried to revolutionize some dogmas, which in this case it was not even touchy.