Toby: The Secret Mine Review

There is a saying that says “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  People will often imitate their idols or someone/something that excels in the way they do things, possibly without even trying.  Toby: The Secret Mine, created by Lukas Navratil and published by Headup Games, takes a lot of inspiration off of games such as Limbo and Nihilumbra but not without seeming too much like a lesser polished, although still enjoyable, version of its predecessors.

At it’s core, Toby: The Secret Mine is a platformer and puzzle game at its core.  Right from the first time you start the game, you are given a character and an obvious villain – thanks to the red eyes, that has a caged person similar in stature to your own character that sprints away from you as you get close.  From the beginning you will explore 21 levels filled with puzzles and traps, for you to overcome, as well as rescue 26 fellow villagers that are trapped in cages throughout the levels.  At the core, it’s a fun challenge that will cause you to have many deaths. For example, after completing all the story missions, we were at 109 total deaths.  The enjoyable part to dying though is the cool 200G achievement for dying 100 times.  There are no boss battles until the end of the last level and even then it’s a pretty self explanatory puzzle. From everything though, if Toby: The Secret Mine is like Limbo, it should be a pretty flawless game.  Unfortunately what Limbo was so good at, Toby: The Secret Mine comes pretty flat.

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As both are puzzle platformers, Toby: The Secret Mine requires a bunch of guessing.  Even the traps that are laid out in each level, can sometimes be extremely well hidden which might not give you any chance to survive. Besides the obvious switch, sometimes you are requires to move a platform that gives you no indication that the object of item is even intractable.  Even with the best of planning, some puzzles give you very little room for error.  The puzzles are intelligently designed but can be disheartening when you discover how easy it is to complete, especially when you had struggled originally to find what it was that had to be moved or altered.  They never hindered progress where we felt like we needed to take a break, but even something like shading moveable objects slightly different or at least a handle to the object would have made puzzles feel more rewarding.

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So why do you go through all these traps and challenges?  Well, we really don’t know.  It’s easy to assume that you are trying to save your fellow villagers but you know nothing about why they are being taken, who their captors are, or even who you are.  There is no back story or explanation of the events that unfold which is a big miss in our opinion.  With the amount of challenges that Toby: The Secret Mine has to offer, an explanation to the events that are you are experiencing could really make your successes feel even more rewarding.  The end does offer you two choices for how it all unfolds, with each also gives you a nice bump to your Gamerscore, but with the lack of story, the weight each choice carries has little emotional weight to the player.  However, for us to complete all 21 levels, we clocked in time wise around 1 hour and 20 minutes – which does mean this is a rather short game.

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Toby: The Secret Mine also follows suit to Limbo with its shadowy ladened art style but does it slightly better.  The levels take you to different styled areas and each, although predominately covered in black, has more color which makes them all feel unique and alive.  Running across snow covered hills to the steampunk factories, there is a lot to appreciate when it comes to the beautiful world of Toby: The Secret Mine.

As an overall experience, Toby: The Secret Mine is quite enjoyable.  The only issues we had was trying to think of it as an individual game and rather, not constantly thinking about Limbo compared to Toby: The Secret Mine.  The two are very similar but Limbo just not only did it first – but they did it slightly better.  But as we said, Toby: The Secret Mine is a fun; although it be a short challenge, that anyone who did enjoy Limbo will definitely have fun wrapping their brains around Toby: The Secret Mine.

Toby: The Secret Mine was released on 19 January 2017 and is available for download in the Xbox store priced at £7.99.

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