If you’ve experienced Playdead’s daunting but equally exceptional Limbo, or the studio’s latest masterpiece Inside, then you will no doubt find certain aspects of Toby: The Secret Mine to be pleasing. Clearly pulling on inspiration from the aforementioned titles and others, Lukas Navratil’s platformer boasts a gorgeous aesthetic and a handful of challenging moments in keeping with the Danish indie developers recent exploits. Sadly, though, it strays a little too close to its inspiration to step fully out from beneath its shadow.
Toby: The Secret Mine: Xbox One [Reviewed], iOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, Wii U, Mac
Developer: Lukas Navratil
Publisher: Headup Games
Release Date: 20 January 2017
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Toby: The Secret Mine sets out its stall in a very similar fashion to Limbo, with the nameless player character dropped into the game, left to explore each levels hazardous environments at their own leisure. While Toby could be comfortably perceived as a rather unerring clone of the 2010 platformer, it actually improves on the aesthetic in certain areas, sadly, though, the only real significantly noticeable difference between Limbo and Toby are its clone-like set of characters that appear in the background throughout the game world, although you are never unable to interact with any of them.
Consisting of 21 differently themed levels, Toby: The Secret Mine offers basic gameplay that is both simplistic and easy to come to grips with in a world full of fun platforming segments all too often let down by the game’s mediocre puzzles, which are anything but thought provoking. Without any real form of a challenge, Toby feels like a breeze in comparison to its far more complex counterpart, and thus, makes for a very short adventure that reaches its conclusion before it can really switch out of first gear.
Although its puzzles can be all too quickly worked out, Toby does manage to offer something in the way of difficulty spike through the use of a trial and error system, which can often lead to infuriating deaths caused by sheer bad luck or a mistimed jump or two.
When not pushing through its unimaginative puzzles, Toby: The Secret Mine much like Limbo consists of in-game areas that, while appearing to be simple in nature, possess the uncanny ability to push you toward the brink of insanity if you look to rush through.
Deadly enemies lie dormant underground in a desert themed level, the slightest noise of footsteps bringing them to life ala Tremors, further along, concrete slabs thud forcefully down into the ground, urging the player to figure out the slabs routine order to avoid becoming a pancake on the ground, while a snow filled locale has you having to outrun a vicious avalanche looking to wipe you out.
Lukas Navratil’s attempts to create a puzzle platformer to rank alongside the likes of Badland, Limbo and Inside falls short on in a lot of ways, most evidently through its lack of real innovation, but that is not to say that the game is all bad. I personally found the platforming segments of Toby to be the most enjoyable, and while the game might not be the challenge most players would be seeking, it still manages to serve up a few moments of fun. Sadly, for all its promise, Toby: The Secret Mine relies far too heavily on its inspirations to stand out on its own two feet, and that ultimately is the game’s biggest downfall.