Making a good game is one of the hardest things anyone can do. However, if there’s one thing that we ask, a game should be what it says it’ll be. A horror game should be scary, a comedy game should be funny, and so on. When a relaxing game fails to be so, it just becomes disappointing and upsetting. When TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight came out, it had a lot of things going for it. A calm, fantasy journey that is spent flying in an airship and exploring quiet towns to keep it afloat is a recipe for a nice experience. To our dismay, it turned out to be a journey akin to driving down a bumpy road with the radio blaring and bugs the size of poodles crashing into the windscreen.
An Airship’s Course
When designing a chill adventure, the less story to follow, the better. In fact, it’s better to give players minimal information and allow them to fill in the blanks as they play. In TASOMACHI, the story is shoved in your face by black screens with text on it. Apparently, a young girl named Yukumo is flying across some mysterious land when an energy surge hits her airship. This forces her to land in a nearby town that has been covered in sleepy mist. She encounters a cat-like creature who encourages her to awaken the Sacred Trees to save the surrounding lands. She also needs to collect energy fruits to repair her airship along the way. It’s a simple fantasy story that didn’t need all the text it got.
Being able to fly and soar gayly through the sky is one of humanity’s top fantasies. Being on a plane achieves this to a degree and the best part is when the flight goes smoothly. This comes through in TASOMACHI as the music. There is quite an extensive and colorful soundtrack accompanying this fantasy world. Each tune is pretty lengthy and distinct creating a different mood every time. There’s an overarching tune that follows you throughout the adventure as you explore each town. The tune starts out quiet and somewhat melancholic while the horrible mist is defying justice. Once you clear it up by talking to the Sacred Trees, the tune picks up becoming more cheerful and light. Make sure you have some good headphones if you plan to take this flight.
So Much Turbulence
Nothing ruins a smooth flight quite like a sudden burst of turbulence. What’s even worse is when it happens multiple times and each one lasts longer than it should. TASOMACHI has so turbulence the airship may as well be flying through a washing machine. The first bout comes from the music and SFX. While the songs are pretty varied, they’re very loud and come in so suddenly it feels obnoxious. Also, some of them are so jarring that they completely conflict with the tone of the game. This applies to the sound effects too with each of them being loud and disruptive. When you bump into one of the cat-like folks it seriously sounds like dropping a medicine ball on a carpeted floor.
Then there are the visual conflicts. It feels like the people who designed the characters and those who designed environments haven’t actually met. Yukumo has the most detail of all which looks so obvious against the simple backdrop. On top of that, she looks like a robotic doll with a face of insincere cheer. The cats also have some detail but all share the same character model with only some palette swaps and aprons to differentiate. To add insult to injury, the game has a horizontal screen tear that will follow from start to finish. No, you won’t stop noticing it.
Lastly, there’s the whole “relaxation” angle. Apparently, this game doesn’t seem to understand the difference between relaxing and boring. FEZ is a game that is chill to play but offers a degree of challenge as you navigate and solve puzzles. TASOMACHI is a game that throws you into contained rooms with obstacle courses that would hardly pose a challenge to a sleepy kitten with a box on its head. There are also tedious trial-and-error puzzles just to keep things varied. If it makes you want to sleep, it’ll be from boredom.
The Airship Landing
TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight is a 3D fantasy platform game where you wander around desolate towns collecting lantern fruits. Its decent soundtrack tries to overpower the boring gameplay and glaring technical issues. This is one airship that should sell its sails and take its chances on the open ocean.
TechRaptor reviewed TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Decent Soundtrack
- Lacking Visual Consistency and Rendering
- Loud and Obnoxious Audio
- Boring Gameplay and Limited Challenge