How Metroidvania is it? Low Fit. Toki Tori 2 plays like a level based puzzle platformer, it just happens to have a unique level structure similar to the Metroidvania genre. Metroidvania fans wouldn’t necessarily love or hate this game based on its use of that level structure.
Primary Challenge: Spatial-Reasoning Puzzles
Time to beat: ~8 hours
Review Info: Toki Tori 2+ was played on Steam
Buy Toki Tori 2+ if you like…
- Really Abstract Puzzle Solving
- Collecting Coin-like objects
- Ambiguous goals and Achievements
- A Relaxing World and Atmosphere
▼ Review continues below ▼
There are times when I’m simply not the target audience for a game, and I think that’s the case with Toki Tori 2. Although that’s not going to stop me from trying to analyze and give my reasons for why this game just doesn’t click with me. Toki Tori 2 is very clever, and definitely high quality, but I think it’s an example of why theming and narrative can be so important when designing a game. But before talking more about how a good story might have helped Toki Tori 2 – aka, talking about what Toki Tori 2 isn’t – I should probably talk a little bit about what it is.
In Toki Tori 2 you play as a round plump chicken with exactly two abilities besides walking; tweeting and stomping. These are the only abilities you’re given the entire game. The stomping is pretty straight forward – you smash your face into the ground and it creates a shockwave with a very clear range. Tweeting gets a little more dynamic – if you hold your button down you sing in a descending scale, and if you tap the button you sing in an ascending scale. In a Zelda Ocarina of Time fashion, you learn 5 different songs that have magical effects if you play the tune correctly. If you happen to know the tune starting the game you can use them right from the beginning.
The object of the game is to figure out how to use tweeting and stomping to with the environment. The most common of your environmental tools are these blocks controlled by Hermit Crabs that come to you when you whistle and run away when you stomp. Since you can’t jump, shifting terrain and manipulating the wildlife is your only option for moving to new areas and achieving your goals. The puzzles are difficult, but never so much so that with a little fussing I couldn’t figure it out. Every solution is based on working with the game’s physics, so that means many puzzles have multiple solutions depending on how you force together the pieces given to you. There was many a time I felt like I was breaking the rules, and that always feels good – it’s a sign of a well-designed puzzle game.
Toki Tori 2 could have just as easily been a mobile game style level-based puzzle platformer, which is what the first game was, but instead the dev team thought it would be cool to make the levels connect as a contiguous world of sorts – so that you would have to return to old areas to unlock new ones. I’ve seen a lot of praise for how innovative this is, especially since you technically aren’t gated by needing new abilities to progress. A Metroidvania where you’re gated by your ignorance rather than by a hard coded ability is actually a great idea that I would like to see explored a bit more (technically Rabi-Ribi kind of does this as well), but for Toki Tori 2 having knowledge of how to interact with environment objects early just allows you to do some sequence breaking if you happen to play the game twice. Beyond the novelty of knowing it’s possible though there’s little incentive to do so, since you are just solving the same puzzles again, no extra challenge or any other differences, and Toki Tori 2 is designed better for 100% completion rather than repetition. You also don’t gain any musical melodies that affect the way you solve puzzles; most of them just provide information such as where you are or what collectables you’re missing, which is useful but not necessarily game changing. The fast travel song and the “kill self” song are the only real game changers, but that’s really only because it gives you access to the “level select” and “reset level” buttons the dev team could have gone with instead. The structure they chose to go with is certainly novel though, and there are certainly small joys in finding secrets tucked away in places where at first you felt like you weren’t supposed to be. Besides the advantage of being able to hide secrets in the game world, little else is done to make Toki Tori 2’s level structure feel unique compared to just doing levels – and I think the problem lies in theming.
I’ve played a few level based puzzle games that suffer from the same problem for me. At first the very act of solving the puzzle is intriguing, and that alone carries me for fifteen minutes to an hour. But then I stumble across a particularly hard puzzle and get frustrated, so I put the game down. Not knowing how long it will take me to figure out the puzzle, and whether my time spent will lead to eventual progress, I suddenly feel a lack of motivation to try again. Playing won’t necessarily lead to fun, in fact it will likely lead to frustration, so with over 500 games in my steam library alone it’s just too tempting to play something else. Ultimately forcing myself to play Toki Tori 2 for the purposes of giving it a fair review reaped some fine rewards as a good challenging puzzle game should, but I had to do a lot of forcing to get myself there. I understand completely this is a personality and preference thing – people that like the level-based puzzle games probably relish the challenge of the mechanics alone – but I can’t help but think Toki Tori 2 would be stronger if it had something else to tug the player along.
Whenever I’m describing this problem for puzzle games, it inevitably makes me think of the Portal games. What would Portal be like without GlaDOS or Wheatley and Cave Johnson? What if it was just a bunch of dry puzzles involving portals from start to finish? Would the game be as loved?
I’m sure Portal would still have its audience without its comedic characters and plot twists, as I’m sure that Toki Tori 2 still has its audience. However, playing as a nameless Chicken with abstract abilities traversing a strange world to accomplish abstract goals – when the going gets tough, at least for me, it’s just hard to keep going. Toki Tori 2’s world is beautiful with relaxing tropical music and bright primary colors, but I think in order for It to be truly great its theming needs to go beyond a shiny candy coat and be built with stronger stuff. Theming might not be the only way to keep Toki Tori 2 more engaging, but it seems like one of the easier methods to apply given the current state of the game.
Toki Tori 2 is a quality game with some great puzzles that I’m sure that any puzzle platformer enthusiast will find plenty to do in. Ultimately my criticisms boil down to personal preferences that have me getting bored instead of excited when the challenges ramp up. More could definitely have been done with the “Metroidvania” concept, and I think a better plot or theming would have hooked even people like me into the best of the puzzles. I think that if you give the demo a try and the mechanics just don’t click with you, then you can probably skip this one – there isn’t a hidden payoff for sticking it out. For the puzzle lovers out there, I think Toki Tori 2 comes very close to landing on something great, but it settles on nesting in just “good.”
There is no combat, really. Occasionally you might have to ''eliminate'' a creature
No platforming in the traditional sense. It's all part of the puzzle
Adding an exploration aspect to what would other wise be a level based puzzle platformer is an interesting twist
They really stretch some simple concepts to their limits, but never so far that it's impossible to figure out on your own
Lack of story direction will likely make bored players give up at the first sign of frustration and never come back
The world is absolutely beautiful
Relaxing music creates a wonderful atmosphere
Toki Tori 2+ is more about completion - there isn't really anything here to make a repeat playthrough worthwhile
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All Time: Very Positive
(87% of 553 Reviews)