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Toby: The Secret Mine review for Xbox One

Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: Headup Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

In Toby: The Secret Mine, players assume the role of Toby, a little humanoid creature with pointy ears on the top of his head. Throughout the very stylized platformer and puzzle solver, Toby is trying to rescue his villagers from kidnappers that look just like him… only larger. Unfortunately some technical difficulties with the jumping mechanic throughout it makes it difficult to enjoy the game, but is the rest of the game good enough to overlook those problems? Let’s find out.

Toby: The Secret Mine is a platformer at heart with a little bit of Metroid mixed in. Lots of hidden compartments and areas to explore and find kidnapped victims, switches, boxes and other things needed to get past the various obstacles and deadly traps. There are other bad guys in the game aside from the kidnappers. The first enemy that you run into that isn’t a kidnapper is a large fast moving slug type creature covered in spikes. He moves faster than Toby so he’ll have to figure out a way around. Most of the puzzles will take multiple tries to complete, and the good news is as players start solving puzzles, (when, not if) a failure happens and Toby dies, he doesn’t get thrown too far back as checkpoints are very close together.

The whole game has a very creative and stylized look: a silhouette. So, that means there is not a lot of color in the game, but it does a nice job of showing character. There is not much in terms of music, however, the environment sound effects are fantastic. The wind and rain sound effects are realistic, and make you feel like you are there.

The most annoying parts of the game are the hidden dangers. In most games, needing to search around for answers doesn’t pose a problem, they are a part of the puzzle.  However, when traps are hidden behind foreground objects, some of the areas become frustrations in memorization, rather than skill in dodging traps. Some puzzles have switches that require a code entered to activate. Most puzzle codes are found while Toby is making his way to the switch, though there are a couple of them that give him no foretold hints at all. One big issue with the code puzzles are the controls. There is one type that was rather annoying with this issue. The control problems have to do with a column where the controls use left and right instead of a more intuitive and visual up and down, which isn’t a major issue but it is an annoyance. Also, Toby ran into issues when jumping up onto a ledge, sometimes getting stuck right on the ledge and the only way to get out is to drop down going backwards. This is a major issue especially if Toby is stuck above something that will cause his death.

Toby: The Secret Mine is a somber experience executed using a visually stunning setting. Most of the puzzles are an experience in exploration and intelligence. Unfortunately, the technical issues keep it from being the masterpiece it could be. A truly great game is hidden underneath all the frustrating problems.

Grade: B-

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