Toem is an adorable photography game that has many beautiful moments, a lot of soul and clever puzzles. You will travel through a black and white world, meeting interesting characters, all presented in diorama-style levels that beg you to explore them. By solving their problems with your trusty camera, you’ll earn stamps that will allow you to move to the next bus stop and be ready to see what happens next.
Toem starts almost like Pokemon the game. You wake up in your small town and are ready to start your epic adventure. Before you can leave, of course, you will be given the obligatory sneakers (well, they are crammed into Toema, but you get the idea) and you leave to be the best – photographer, that is. The entire game is presented in black and white with shades of gray used to add texture to the various areas you visit. For Game fully on photography, one might think that this limited color palette would hurt the experience, but it is not; if anything, it forces you to focus more on the composition of your shots.
Puzzles in Toem often involve a character who asks you to show him a photo of what he’s missing, or someone they’re looking for. At the beginning of the quest, you will be looking for someone’s missing sock only in order to win it back from a ghost in a gambling game. (How the ghost stole the sock at all, we’re not sure – they at all have ft?) Either way, you get a stamp as a reward, collecting enough stamps will allow you to move to the next level. You will also receive new clothes and update your camera from time to time. By the end of the game, we walked around with Styrofoam fingers and a fishing hat – the pinnacle of high fashion.
Arriving at a new location in Toeme is always fun because you often need to talk to everyone in the area and get to know all the unique wildlife before you can start piecing together and solving puzzles. They are all pretty simple, the worlds are not huge, so you are not going to look for days, but none of them seem tiresome. You will always be rewarded with funny dialogues and a great shot – the best reward for aspiring photographers.
This is a short relaxing game that we easily completed in 3-4 hours of sitting, but we loved every minute of it. Perfect for a rainy day or a long road trip; this is a rare game that feels sincerely cosy. It’s fun to look back at images from earlier in the game, when you’re still learning the rope and have a hard time keeping your subject in frame, to the well-shot compositions that you manage to create as you finish the game. Like us, you cannot resist the urge to return for every seal, every secret, and every brilliant line of dialogue.
Toem is refreshingly available too. You don’t even need to take brilliant photos – aside from one or two missions, the game is pretty generous in what it will accept as quest resolution – but we made sure everything we shot looked good because there is a pleasure to be found in the process – just like a photo in real life.
As a great album to play at the end of the day to unwind, Toem is an incredibly relaxing experience that you’ll want to try again when it’s finished. It almost makes us want to photograph the world around us, but unfortunately we don’t have a duck in a lighthouse keeper costume to show it off. If only.