STAFF REVIEW of Toby: The Secret Mine (Xbox One)


Monday, February 6, 2017.
by John Elliott

Toby: The Secret Mine Box art I am one of those rare people who didn’t enjoy Limbo at all when it came out while everyone else was holding it to such high acclaim. I just didn’t get what was great about a black and white platformer when compared to the rest of the genre out there. I can even say that when I played it to give it a fair shake I wasn't sold on the game (don't hate me). So, when approaching my next review, Toby: The Secret Mine, I can definitely say I was hesitant about it given the comparisons that the title was receiving towards Limbo and how I felt about that game.

Well, people can change and/or be surprised right? Toby: The Secret Mine is an improvement on the black and white look that some games haven taken as an artistic presence in the past years. It’s improved in the sense that on the surface it might just seem black and white, but when you dig into it you will see a huge color palette of dark hues and tones, and some color too, that are incorporated into each level. All at the same time when looking at the designs of each level, you'll see how the wonderful art style creates a delightful world that is dark, damp and eerie, but yet not one that you don't want to look at.



As a whole, when you combine the art direction with the music and sound effects, whcih blend hand in hand with each other to continue with the dark atmosphere that the developers obviously strive for, you will get the sense of the scope of the presentation. As I played this good looking game, I found that there were times that I would get shivers when entering the dark and wet areas of the game, because they did such an amazing job of using all of the presentation tools that they had available to them. Kudos to the dev-team for the work they have done in this area.



As I progressed through this platformer the story unfolded. You'll find that all of your friends are kidnapped and taken away by some sort of monster, and it's up to you to save the day. The first level takes you through the basics of jumping around, flicking switches, and solving some of the puzzles that you will face in this world. Although as an older gamer I appreciate the lack of hand holding, but some on-screen prompts might help some of the younger generation as it took my son about 10 minutes to figure out that you have to hit B to make one of the moving chambers actually move. Aside from a minor complaint like this, the controls are pretty intuitive and work much like any other platformer you may have played in the past.

In this genre you’re going to die a lot, and Toby: The Secret Mine it is no different, but with the save system you are usually put back right at the start of the puzzle you are working on, encouraging you to look around and explore this beautiful world. However, even though you may die a fair bit this game, it is incredibly short with only 21 levels to go through. I was able to sit down in an afternoon and complete it. Unfortunately, it is also noted that the levels are nothing special when compared to other titles found in the same genre, and as an avid gamer I was able to quickly solve the puzzles as I have seen many versions of them before in other titles.


For $9.99 (Cdn) Toby: The Secret Mine is a short adventure that is worth looking into for the art design alone and I would love to see the story of Toby told in a graphic novel medium. That being said, it's gameplay, although standard, doesn't bring anything distinctly unique to the table and often the puzzles are just too simple. It's also unfortunate that the game is fairly short and doesn’t offer any replay value at all to allow you to squeeze a few more hours out of it. Some new levels, as some free or relatively cheap DLC, would be great to give this beautiful game some more life. At the end of the day Toby: The Secret Mine has a beautiful cover, given its' overall presentation, but when you get into the meat of the gameplay it seems to lack in a lot of key areas that would make this a hit.




Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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