Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 8

TOEM is a hand-drawn adventure game where players get to travel to various locations and perform good deeds that mostly involve taking photos. The monochrome visuals give the game a unique look and being able to switch between an overhead view and a first-person view is a cool touch. The game is very casual and relaxing, so younger players will enjoy the adventure but is also engaging enough to keep older players hooked.

Gameplay: Travel from one location to the next while snapping photos and helping out people in need.

Graphics: The combination of 2D and 3D elements along with the monochromatic visuals gives TOEM a unique and interesting look.

Sound: TOEM features a great soundtrack, humorous made-up voice-overs, and great ambient sounds

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
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Developer: Something We Made | Publisher: Something We Made | Release Date: 2021 | Genre: Casual / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

TOEM is the age-old video game tale of a young child leaving home and setting off on an adventure. However, in this case, the world doesn’t need saving, and no monsters in the wild require capturing. Instead, your grandmother simply hands you a camera and tells you to go to the nearby mountain and photograph the “TOEM” phenomena. Leaving the cozy starting area of Homelanda behind, players travel to serene woods, seaside towns, and bustling cities on the way to Kiiruburg where the TOEM phenomena can be found.

It is very much a game that is about the journey and not the destination as each location en route to the TOEM is filled with a quirky cast of characters in need of help. As luck would have it the public transport system is based on helping others, which means players must help a certain number of people in each area to get enough stamps for traveling to the next. Even more fortunate, almost every problem in the world of TOEM can be solved with the use of your trusty camera.

In this hand-drawn adventure game, players get to view the world from an isometric overhead perspective that can be rotated for a better look. Using your camera switches the view to first-person mode, which makes it even easier to spot items that are often cleverly hidden away in the other perspective. The game features a monochrome visual style, which is not only striking but also means players must be more observant to spot quest items or characters. While the game is centered around taking photos it also features a lot of exploration. Thankfully each area is not only very interesting to wander around but also has a circular layout that cuts down on the amount of backtracking required.

TOEM is a very relaxing game and each area has several unique quests along with recurring ones such as requests by the local photo guilds or a shady character lurking somewhere that must be found and photographed. After completing enough requests, which are listed on a handy community card, players are free to move on to the next area or continue doing quests. There’s no rush or time limit and players can return to previous areas at any time. This is great for times when you get stuck on certain quests or had enough of the area and want a change of scenery.

The gameplay in TOEM mostly involves talking to the quirky characters to find out what ails them, exploring the areas to find interesting outfits and accessories, or taking photos. The game finds plenty of ways for players to use their cameras, ranging from simply taking photos to show people exactly what they want to see to using its zoom function to find hidden objects or to guide NPCs.

Eventually, players also gain access to accessories for the camera, such as a tripod for snapping shots of cryptids who are too shy to show their faces, or a horn for scaring away birds and startling people. The outfits and accessories mentioned earlier are not just purely cosmetic either. For example, there’s a pair of glasses that allows players to see and talk to ghosts, boots that can help players climb up ropes, and a diving helmet for breathing underwater. Some of the challenges in the game can be a little obtuse, but overall it leans towards the casual side of the spectrum and is rarely frustrating.

Visually, TOEM looks great and the monochrome visuals along with the mixture of 2D and 3D objects give the game an almost pop-up book aesthetic. Although there are not a lot of different areas in the game they are all very distinct and packed with interesting visual elements. The character designs are all very charming and taking photos of everything in sight is fun. It should also be mentioned that TOEM received a free content update after its initial release which added a brand new vacation area called Basto. It is the biggest region in the game and adds an additional hour or two of content thanks to new mini-games, quests, treasure hunting, and even a new camera attachment for launching water balloons.

TOEM is not just a very relaxing game to play, but thanks to music by Jamal Green and Launchable Socks it also features plenty of great chill beats. Players can either listen to these tracks as they play or select their favorites manually. To further encourage exploration players can also find and unlock new tunes to play in the game. TOEM also features a great ambient soundscape with plenty of background noises for each area. While the game features speech for all the characters, it’s in a made-up language, which fits the quirky nature of TOEM.

We had no trouble with the controls in TOEM and unlike other photography-focused games, it is not very strict on the criteria for good photos. As long as whatever needs to be in the photo is visible the game won’t penalize players for anything. In fact, things like filters or stickers that can be applied to photos are all purely cosmetic for the most part. Taking photos is as easy as looking at the object or person that needs to be photographed and maybe zooming in or out for a better angle before taking the shot. TOEM is also filled with all manner of animals and insects that can be photographed for achievements, but are not necessary for completing the game.

Overall, Toem is a very wholesome experience that can be enjoyed by players of all ages. There’s no violence or action, but the game also does not feel like it is lacking anything. It’s not a very long game, but the optional achievements and new area added by the free update do add a few hours to the playtime. While TOEM is not the first game to make use of a photography gimmick it has integrated it well with the gameplay and delivers a memorable experience that comes highly recommended.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7 or later
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: 10.12+
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04 and Ubuntu 18.04
  • Processor: x64 architecture with SSE2 instruction set support
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.2+, Vulkan capable
  • Additional Notes: – Gnome desktop environment running on top of X11 windowing system – Other configuration and user environment as provided by default with the supported distribution (Kernel, Compositor, etc.) – Nvidia and AMD GPUs using Nvidia official proprietary graphics driver or AMD Mesa graphics driver
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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