Considering how far technology has come, almost anybody can be a photographer with the device they have on hand. Despite this, photography has always been kind of a passing element in videogames applied in various ways. In Beyond Good And Evil it was used to make money, in Dead Rising it was used to earn experience and now it’s being used in TOEM to go on an adventure. The creative people at Something We Made have made a cute-looking game about traveling around and taking photos for yourself, people, and for fun. It’s a relaxing environment with a lot of quirk and weirdness to see.
Filling A Photo Album
One of the main motivations to take photos is to capture memories for ourselves and for future generations. We’re living in a culture where we’re driven to record everything and cameras are a big part of that. We want to record our journeys however we can so that we can share them with family and friends. A sense of this feeling can be felt in TOEM. You play as a nameless photographer who is encouraged by their grandmother to go out into the world and experience a rare event called “Toem”. She gives you a camera to help you capture every strange and beautiful thing you see on your journey for yourself and others. It’s a comforting opening to an adventure that lets you go at your own pace.
When taking a photo, there are a lot of techniques and rules to take into account if you want to get a perfect picture. TOEM applies a few techniques to give a solid photography experience. One of them is the overall aesthetic of the game. In a vein similar to shows like Adventure Time, the game includes a lot of wacky and silly designs. Though the places you’ll visit may be similar to those you’ve seen in your travels, the character and animal designs are very diverse to the point that they may as well all be from different planets. It creates the fun and light-hearted feeling of wandering through a cartoon.
Then there’s the photo mechanic. While games tend to include a way to carefully look around and examine your surroundings, TOEM makes it a core part of gameplay. Your camera covers a wide view and comes with all the usual controls such as zooming and flipping. Even though you’re in a cartoon world, there’s a lot to be found in your surroundings both far off and nearby. You’ll also get attachments and changes to your camera in order to tackle different situations and give your photos a new look.
The big thing is the overall nature of TOEM. It’s a game to help you unwind and that’s exactly what it does. You’re free to roam around examining all the sights and talking to all the people to your heart’s content. You can spend your time taking photos of whatever you come across to fill up your album. There are also special sights that you can find to earn some flashy artistic photos and prove your sharp eye.
You can have the most advanced camera in the history of photography but your photos won’t come out well if you don’t know how to use it. TOEM does well, yet makes a few mistakes along the way. The first is ironically the camera (the game camera). Though it has a top-down isometric perspective, it can be kind of tricky to navigate. You might find yourself unable to ascend a simple ramp just because you’re not looking exactly at it.
Then there’s the degree of challenge in the adventure. This is meant to be a relaxing experience, but the tasks are so easy sometimes that it feels like chores. Many of the beings you meet will have some kind of problem you’ll need to solve by taking a specific picture and showing it to them. Of all the different “quests” maybe three of them are a bit cryptic but most can be completed within a couple of minutes.
TOEM is a cute photography-based adventure where you take pictures and solve problems. It’s got some dynamic stylized art, a fun camera mechanic, and a peaceful atmosphere. It’s missing a solid perspective and a lot of challenges, but that’s not the point. The goal of the game is to experience Toem so maybe you should experience it for yourself.
TechRaptor reviewed TOEM on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5.
- Stylized and Diverse Visuals
- A Smooth and Friendly Camera Mechanic
- A Simple and Relaxing Atmosphere
- Orientation can be Annoying
- Very Little Challenge