Toem is a photography adventure. You wander around taking pictures and solving simple problems. It’s fitting, I guess, that after playing through the recent Basto update yesterday, the first thing I did before writing today was look back through all my pictures.
Cor. Here’s me at a camp fire listening to a spooky story. Here I am helping a mermaid sing a song. Here I am judging a royal sandcastle competition. Here I am stuck in some kind of pipe. Understand this: Toem is already one of my favourite games in years. Basto just makes it all even better.
The free update provides an entirely new region with a bunch of new objectives to tick off, but also a new bit of Toem’s newsprint world to explore, new characters to meet, new whimsy to engage in. Basto’s a tropical region, with lovely palm trees laden with fruit waiting to be collected and turned into ice cream. There’s a new day and night mechanic that sees the tides changing and bringing different paths into play. There’s a new attachment that allows you to fire water balloons from your camera. There are mountainy bits, camps, oddballs, and even a spooky cave. Get in.
Jeepers, I just had the best time. I always do with Toem. And if I’m super honest, I’m never entirely sure why. The objectives are fun, but they’re simple and often play with basic collection ideas. The puzzles are playful rather than properly brainteasing. But there’s something about the range of objectives, the speed with which you can tick a few off and make progress, the pleasure of rubber-stamping each success, and the sheer doodly joy of the world this all takes place in that elevates everything.
And of course there’s the camera you carry with you. Toem, like Beyond Good & Evil, realises that if you give the player the camera, a camera to put between themselves and the world they explore, the whole thing becomes a bit more real, a bit more engaging. We visit other worlds in games, but I am thoroughly embedded in Toem, because I’m allowed to take snaps of what I see, and while there are reasons to take some of these pictures, there’s also an emphasis on taking pictures for no reason at all.
I raced through Basto in an hour or two, although, as ever, there are always a few elements left undone. It’s bittersweet for me, because More Toem is such a wonderful thing and now I don’t know if there’ll be any more More Toem. I can hope, at least. And while I hope I can linger by the campfire and listen to another spooky story.