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Toki Tori 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, WiiU
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Two Tribes
Release Date: Feb. 23, 2018

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Switch Review - 'Toki Tori 2+'

by Andreas Salmen on April 4, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Toki Tori 2+ will see Two Tribes' poultry mascot character return in a completely new adventure, developed from the ground up for today's players and technology.

Buy Toki Tori 2+

Most gamers will proclaim that gameplay is king, but graphics and visuals are equally important. Toki Tori 2+ fails in this regard, with cutesy visuals that could be mistaken for a generic platformer. This may be the reason why Toki Tori 2+ still flies under the radar and has little recognition, although it was released over four years ago on the Wii U to positive reception. If you manage to look past its innocent visual design, you may find one of the better Switch puzzle platformers with interesting level design and Metroidvania elements.

In Toki Tori 2+, we take control of a little chick who must rescue his fellow chicklets and save the world from a corruptive power. The game is not too good at explaining what's going on, which is mostly due to the absence of text and voice. From the start, we only have one clear objective:  Reach a tower in the distance. How we get there is up to us, even though the level design pushes us along a certain path. We'll get back to that later.

Toki Tori 2+ emphasizes environmental puzzle-solving. This is not a fast-paced and fluid experience, but it involves backtracking and trial-and-error sequences to advance through a puzzle. Our chicklet cannot jump and is only able to climb small ledges. All puzzle-solving is done by either chirping or stomping on the ground, prompting a reaction from our immediate surroundings. This boils down to animals being attracted to our chirping, and they run in the opposite direction when we stomp. While this as an incredibly small move set, developer Two Tribes manages to get creative and offers quite a bit of variety in the puzzles.

Since we're only able to influence certain behavior in our immediate surroundings, variety comes with the frequent introduction of new allies, enemies and obstacles. We may have to guide little bugs to frogs, which eat them and stay in place. If we stomp while standing in front of them, they send out a bubble that can carry us upward to previously inaccessible ledges. Birds may also be attracted by our chirping and carry us to their nests. Electrical bugs, which can kill us with one hit, are disabled if we stomp next to them. Bats are disturbed by any sounds we make and will kill us if we aren't careful. The assortment of different creatures and their varying degrees of interaction make puzzles multilayered and harder than the cute visuals may suggest.

While Toki Tori 2+ has a general path that it expects us to take through the game, it's entirely possible to break out of the pattern and tackle the game in any order. Its design is very similar to a Metroidvania in that it has an open-world game design and certain areas are seemingly sealed off until a later point, but one distinct difference is that Toki Tori 2+ never gives you new abilities that are vital to advancing.

Apart from chirping and stomping, we don't need any other skills to solve the puzzles. Instead, the game teaches us how our environment reacts to our actions, starting with obvious puzzles that enable us to make a connection between the cause and effect. Areas are not inaccessible due to the game sealing them off with abilities or items you haven't found yet, but because you haven't learned how to manipulate the environment in order to get there.

Once you've beaten the game, it's interesting to see that you can start the game again and take a completely different route than before because you now have the knowledge to bypass the roadblocks. From a level design perspective, it's fascinating to see that the game is made well enough to subsist even when it's not played in the intended order; this gives the player actual freedom instead of promoting fake notions that your choices matter. It's also a testament to the puzzle design, which makes the roadblocks feel like they're indeed insurmountable.

Toki Tori 2+ still has its share of issues. It's very slow and is a puzzle-heavy platformer, which may not appeal to fans who are hoping for a fast-paced platformer. The overall pace work wells for a game that you'd pick up and play to relax between more action-packed experiences, but it can sometimes be frustrating and exhausting when some puzzles require significant thought and tinkering with different approaches. This is by no means an experience to blast through, and it may require you to put it down and come back at a later point.

Apart from integral gameplay mechanics, our chick protagonist can also chirp five distinct melodies that trigger additional moves tied to long-distance travel, checkpoints, and collectibles. Certain sounds set a custom checkpoint or return us to the last one we passed, others enable us to fast-travel, reveal collectibles around us, or enable an internal photo mode that lets us collect and index elements from the game world.

Like any good puzzle platformer, Toki Tori 2+ has collectibles to find throughout the world. The partial cogs can be found in plain sight and in hidden areas. Collecting them enables us to activate certain switches to open a special door. It also has its own achievement system, which is a neat little addition on the Nintendo Switch. Beating the game can take you around nine hours, depending on how quickly you progress through the puzzles. Getting all of the collectibles adds a few extra hours to that, making it a decently long experience for the $15 price tag.

The game will not win any prizes for its visual design, even though it looks decent. It doesn't do justice to its good design choices and gameplay, and the graphics certainly won't resonate with many. They're completely serviceable but probably won't work for the intended audience.

The game excels when it manages to tell you where to go, what to do, and how to master puzzles without actually telling you anything, but it falls flat when you hit a roadblock that you can't figure out.  There are no hints or other helpful insights to be found within the game. If you're stuck, you're stuck until you figure it out on your own. That can be frustrating, and it also detracts from the otherwise strong level design. The line between empowering and frustration is thin, and it can easily swing either way. The port to the Switch is working as expected, creating a smooth experience without complaints, but it also lacks any distinct advantages over other versions, despite the obvious portability.

Taken at face value, Toki Tori 2+ is an incredibly well-designed platformer with a distinct Metroidvania vibe. However, it is let down by its visuals and sometimes frustratingly slow progression and backtracking due to certain puzzle sections.

Score: 8.0/10

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