Luke spends his time playing video games, binge-watching TV and hanging out with his German Shepherd, Ziggy and Bernese Mountain Dog Pandora.
With wholesome feel-good games increasing in popularity, and photo modes proving to capture plenty of attention while players everywhere capture their iconic gaming moments, a friendly adventure like Toem is certainly in the right place at the right time.
This adorable journey has you going around, accepting photo-related quests from the quirky characters you’ll meet and filling your compendium with animal pics, happy snaps and selfies. Starting off at home with your Nana, you quickly acquire a camera and it’s off you go out into the big not-so-scary world. By completing missions, you earn stamps, and by earning a certain number of stamps you can access new areas, one after the other, each with new challenges. It’s a simple concept that never feels too taxing, even as your journal fills up with requests.
These cute missions can range from finding a missing sock, taking photos of hiding “monsters” or helping two parent balloons find their balloon son so they can celebrate his birthday together. Characters have short and sharp interactions, and with friendly dialogue you have to figure out how to solve puzzles with your camera. For example, a hidden monster may only show itself if you’re hiding from view. Taking a cute photo of a foodie influencer needs to be angled so that they are clearly in frame with the food. Some tasks are clear, like direct photo challenges that give you a laundry list of objects to snap. Other objectives are more obscure, like enjoying a goat choir… despite there being no goats.
“…an incredibly sweet diversion that is perfect for an afternoon photographic frolic.”
Even the more strange objectives don’t take a massive leap in logic to figure out, mostly because each of the areas you visit are limited in size, so essentially the answer to your dilemma is never too far away. Cleverly, when you flip into the first person perspective behind the lens, you’ll often see more than what you normally have access to in the frame of vision. You can only zoom in and out, and rotate the camera left and right – so what we can’t see clearly from our birds-eye view can potentially still be captured from your little character on the ground.
Oh, and the black and white style of Toem is really a sight to behold. It’s simple, yet incredibly effective, and where I was worried about potentially losing a level of detail by the game not having any colour, the bold black lines and the cardboard-but-in-3D camera perspectives give everything a very polished diorama feeling, allowing you to spot hidden secrets that would otherwise have been obscured from view. The music is also very chill and made me feel zen while I was lining up the perfect shot.
Toem will only take you a few hours to get through, but while the missions may be checked off the list, there’s also a large compendium of creatures that you can fill out completely, and then there’s those of us who will spend a bit of extra time not just snapping what we need for quests, but actually getting good photos for our album and filling it up with cute moments and memories. In an industry where bigger is often marketed as “better”, Toem is an incredibly sweet diversion that is perfect for an afternoon photographic frolic.
Toem is available now on Switch, PC and PS5.