As was previously mentioned in my coverage of Play NYC 2019, I’m a sucker for a cool logo, and that is exactly what drew me to Other Moon Games’ Totem. Plus it looked all pixelly and foresty, so after waiting a half hour for the two guys ahead of me to finish their demos, I dove right in!
Playing as Mara, one of the deer worshippers who has the Gift of Change, you travel to the great beasts of the world to gather energy to fight off a group of invaders. The Gift of Change allows you to shapeshift in order to solve puzzles and fight enemies, and look cool while doing it.
The demo that I played took place right at the start of the game, when there is a disturbance in the force and our heroine Mara is called to spring into action! Her main weapon is a magical axe, with a variety of uses. I was honestly impressed by the creativity that went into the weapon design, as I’ve never before encountered a weapon quite like it in an RPG. The axe can cut down trees and plants, as you do, but it can also be used like a boomerang, as a teleporter, and it stores up all the magic you harvest as you go around the woods.
One of my favorite things about Totem has to be the clean pixel art style. It reminds me of some of the games I played as a kid back in the early '90s, where there’s just enough detail to give the world life, but it’s not like the newer, elaborate pixel art games with over-the-top shading and intricate designs. It’s a simple, clean graphics style and I love it.
The puzzles in Totem were pretty straightforward, as they should be for the start of a game. The only difficulty I ran into was when mechanics weren’t explained clearly enough, or at all. For example, why doesn’t my magic braid keep getting bigger? And why can’t I teleport through rocks? How do I teleport sideways through rocks? Luckily, the devs were on hand to answer all my questions when I kept flinging myself and my axe at stone pillars, but if I’d been playing the demo by myself it would’ve been much more frustrating.
Combat was well done, but the fighting style was definitely heavy on the flinging of the axe, rather than mano-a-mano duels. While this works great for the game, it was definitely out of my comfort zone as I prefer to just bash enemies on the head 'til they die. What do you mean, I have to aim this thing?
Overall, Totem was a great experience. While it could still use some more polish, the premise of the story and all of the basic mechanics were spot on. Mara seems to be an interesting protagonist from the little that we learn about her, and I hope she gets more fleshed out on her journey. Totem is coming to Mac, PC, and Nintendo Switch with a projected release date of Q4 2020.
What does the art style of Totem remind you of? Will you be following up with future developments for the game? What would you shapeshift into if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2019 Coverage Hub.