Released back in 2015 on Steam, Toby The Secret Mine is only just making its debut on consoles, with Wii U and Xbox One being the first step.
Red-eyed catlike creatures have kidnapped your friends and you must find (and save) them. They have been taken in to a mine full of traps and puzzles that aim to catch you out, should you not be eagle-eyed enough to spot them.
The game is beautifully presented and has a superb soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere of the environments. Think Badlands for colour and style of the environments, and Limbo for gameplay and the look of the game – silhouetted platforming puzzles – where everything is trying to kill you and death is but a mere misplaced step away.
While the funky soundtrack and colourful palette are the main differences from the adventures of Limbo, Toby is more than just a mere clone. There are varied environments, mini-game puzzles to solve, and a boss battle at the end. It all makes for a very enjoyable two hours of gameplay. Unfortunately however, it’s that short, with very little replayability.
There are 26 hidden ‘friends’ throughout the game, but on my first run-through I had found all but two of them. There’s also very little story to hung up on. The beauty of Limbo was in the story that it managed to tell without words, that same emotion is absent from Toby, and while super cute, it just can’t match its source material. The ending is rather good though, with a good or bad choice, giving a nice twist should you choose to be bad.
Having played through Limbo several times, I expected the same tricks, and it was a good while into the game before I met with my first unfortunate step, and that was only because I misjudged a jump. As the game goes on, the trial and error deaths feel cheaper and at times more frustrating than they did in Limbo. The highlight of my short time in the Secret Mine was a sequence where I had to escape an avalanche. I also rather enjoyed the mini-puzzles, which while never too difficult, bar a hair raising lock picking challenge, it was good to see an attempt at bringing something new to the Limbo style of game.
I also suffered a few bugs where I got stuck in the environment. Worse though, at the end of a level where I was tasked with jumping over a series of buzz saws, whenever I clipped one, I was rooted to the spot after respawning, having to exit the game and restart the whole level.
Toby The Secret Mine is beautifully rendered. The levels and hazards are well designed, and while it takes its influences from Limbo, Toby is no mere copycat; it takes the style of the game and makes it his own, it’s just a shame that it’s so short.
Thanks to Xbox and Headup Games for supporting TiX