If I wasn't covering Treasure Adventure World for review, I would have stopped playing before my first hour was up. The controls did not agree with me, and the story did little to engage me. That said, I went along to do my duty and give the game the fair chance it deserves. I'm glad I did.
A remake of an old freeware title, Treasure Adventure World has you playing as a young boy named Peep. The game starts as Peep wakes up on an island with a hook for a hand and no memory of who he is or how he got there. Once getting your bearings, you meet up with a parrot named Whydah, and Peep learns that he arrived in this world with his father and uncle in search of a high power that will grant one wish. To activate this power, one must hold twelve legendary treasures.
The premise is basic enough, with the story of Peep's past coming back to him in flashbacks throughout the 15-hour adventure. It’s a fairly standard hero's journey, with all of the dialogue delivered through text boxes.
What the plot lacks in originality, Treasure Adventure World makes up for in lore. The backstory here involves thousand-year-old demons, all-powerful god giants, and corporations hell-bent on controlling the world. Not all of it is explicitly detailed, but facets hinting at the past are all over the different islands.
Your search for the treasures takes you across multiple islands, each with their own theme, inhabitants, and side quests. Along the way, you'll uncover pearls that show the way to these treasures or upgrades for Peep. The Castlevania-inspired 2D world is open to you from the start, meaning you can come across these treasures whether you're ready for them or not. This lack of direction turned me away at first, but I soon found the fun in deciphering if I either lack the equipment to solve a particular puzzle, or just can't find the right combination of my current equipment.
Sometimes it's hard to tell if there is even a puzzle to be solved, or if I missed a doorway a while back. I struggled for a while trying to light some blockage on fire, thinking I had to bring a flame through a jump puzzle to get in range. Instead, I only needed to jump on a shop sign that looked stuck in the background. These moments are frequent, and you'll want to slap yourself for not realizing solutions earlier.
Side quests are some of the best parts of Treasure Adventure World, though a disappointing number result in no reward. I’d say that I deserve something for cleansing poison from a pipe system, wouldn’t you? You’ll spend a lot of time going back and forth between these quests as you unlock more tools, but fortunately, there is an easy-to-use fast travel system to cut down on that.
In real time, you'll journey between each island with an upgradable boat. It’s something that doesn’t extend past a gimmick until the late game, but it’s a fun distraction all the same.
Island themes range from a standard tropical paradise to a tree filled with poisoned talking rats, to a haunted island with a massive castle from days long past. Each one changes everything from the enemy design to the way you utilize your tools. My favorite is an alternate universe that incorporates psychedelic visuals into the standard platforming. It was unexpected, and just one example of the creative lengths Treasure Adventure World stretches to keep the experience fresh.
While the puzzles and worlds become more imaginative as you go, the combat stays stale. Peep’s primary attack is a close range swing of his hook, but you must come so close to enemies that you’re all but guaranteed to take damage yourself. Even then, some of my attacks ended up missing though I could have sworn that they landed. Eventually, you recieve a handy ranged hook throw, which helps to ease the pain. Even with this, I still ran past the respawning monsters instead of engaging with them. Recurring one-use magic powers help this, but they are better for puzzle solving over combat.
Boss fights have you figuring out patterns in the design instead of pushing you to use combat. I enjoyed platforming my way through a boss’ attacks or completing Pac-Man-like challenges to damage them much more than only hitting the attack button during an opening.
Further adding to variety are the sections where you take control of the parrot, Whydah. These stages are simple “avoid-the-enemy” scenarios, with one hit sending you back to the beginning. While short-lived, Whydah scenarios were fun diversions.
If you can align yourself with the awkward controls and zero-room-for-error platforming mechanics, you'll find that your enjoyment of Treasure Adventure World runs parallel to your playtime. What starts off as an unassuming journey turns into more of an adventure than I initially bargained for.
I firmly believe that Treasure Adventure World plays better with a controller. The game offers full controller support, though if you're playing in Big Picture mode, you need to disable Steam's official support and allow the in-game one to take over. Otherwise, the controller will bug out.
The monster design is surprisingly varied. A few enemies recur throughout the game, but a constant stream of new foes keeps the adventure fresh. You’ll fight against angry crabs, swift spirits, suicidal bats, and literal pillars of moving fire. Some of these adversaries become the puzzles and require you to leave the room if you kill them early. One standout enemy type is a walking bomb that Peep can pick up and throw around. Different scenarios require you to use it as an elevated platform or to destroy a pile of rocks, but this thing probably killed me more than any other enemy.
By the time I finished the game, I was still missing around 20% of the collectibles. I was given two options: continue the game before the final fight, or go into a new game plus. I went with my old save, but it’s nice to see the option.
While it’s clean on the bug front, I experienced more than a few crashes. Most occurred without reason, and alt-tabbing out of the game window caused a headaches worth of problems each time. Hell, my first few startups didn’t even work until I restarted my computer. As I got further through the game, these performance issues happened less.
As I write up my final thoughts, how much I enjoy Treasure Adventure World still shocks me. This game is a reminder to never go purely by first impressions. Anything can impress you if you give it a chance. While I'm disappointed by the weak combat, the amount of creativity and variety in both the gameplay and the level design make up for it. Whether you're looking for a casual experience or something to sink your teeth into, Treasure Adventure World is an enjoyable game that only gets better as you keep playing.
Our Treasure Adventure World review was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
Whether you're looking for a casual experience or something to sink your teeth into, Treasure Adventure World is an enjoyable experience that only gets better as you keep playing.
- Creative Worlds
- Puzzle and Enemy Variety
- Interesting Side Quests
- Awkward Combat
- Some Gimmicks