Another indie title is upon us, and this one has the sign of the beast – no, not Damien, but the little known fellow from Japan, though made in Brazil, named Tamashii. It’s not the Japanese equivalent of Steve or Dave, but the rough translation for ‘soul’ and you’ll see why this is relevant the moment you boot it up.
Tamashii is an unusual piece – an indie game through and through, focusing more on the gameplay mechanics than wowing you with jaw-dropping imagery. Still, despite the understated graphics, it’s pretty darn effective. It instils a sense of uneasiness much better than any poorly lit first-person adventure where you only have a torch to hand. I’d even go as far to say that the visuals are quite cute, in a morbid way, with one of the bleakest colour palettes since Pong and least like Clumsy Rush in terms of colour, but expertly juxtaposed with blasts of red and green here and there. In some ways, Tamashii looks like a classic Game Boy game, but it’s not one you would have played back-in-the-day.
The game is a typical platform/puzzle game with its fair share of tricks to lure you into a false confidence that you are indeed, excellent at these type of games. While the game is somewhat short, don’t expect to finish this in a sitting unless you’ve had a fair share of Red Bull and you’re pretty good at this sort of thing. It’s getting to the stage now where most indie games feature imminent deaths, and Tamashii is no exception. However, it’s relevant to the game, and in fairness, this is how these 8-bit style games played in the day: if you didn’t know the cheat codes or had an Action Replay, the only way to finish it was hard graft.
When you’re playing the game, you feel like it’s one of those video nasties that was banned all those years ago. Or perhaps staying up late and catching some absurd after-hours B-movie that’s a mixture of Videodrome and Tetsuo: The Iron Man that’s been re-recorded on with a tatty VHS recorder. I doubt anyone will get those references immediately, but if you Google all those things, chuck them in a blender with some cutlery, you’ll get a broad picture of what to expect with Tamashii – it’s weird but good weird. In fact, for my peculiar tastes, it has one of the best ambient soundtracks I’ve heard in an indie game.
Though influenced on obscure 8-bit – 16-bit titles, the approach to the game is quite a modern one – abolishing the need for you to have to play through excess tutorials or having your handheld. Instead, Tamashii throws you into the action pretty early on as you uncover hidden secrets in this underground temple that you investigate. It’s not something you can pinpoint a few sentences, but those into horror or slightly unnerving narratives that make you think are more likely to enjoy this game.
That said, it is still a puzzle platformer in the style of a retro game, so don’t expect to be blown away by the graphics. If I was looking at the write-up and still images, I might have overlooked this game, but the trailer reeled me in with that fearful score and disclaimers of it being a dangerous game to play. It doesn’t say that, but in my head, it felt like forbidden fruit. You’ll note that I haven’t discussed the game so much, but that’s intentional as you need to play it for yourself as I wouldn’t want to ruin any of the surprises for you. However, I can tell you a few things about it.
As you can expect with a platformer, you can control your unnamed character by jumping back and forth and manipulating trigger points to unlock new areas. This is done by laying down these statues or totems – whatever you want to see them as, placing them on switches so that you can progress further. There aren’t too many moments of working out what to do next, but it’s a challenge and Tamashii isn’t without the odd cheap shot to kill you off. Thankfully, respawning isn’t as arduous as can be expected, and you can crack on with your quest once more.
Now, while the atmosphere of the game and audio is spot-on, I still didn’t like the main character. They’re ok, but the movement looked like I was controlling a cutout and didn’t feel like he has any weight when moving around. The controls are relatively responsive, but the trail you leave after jumping and the lack of any decent animation put me off. It’s a minor niggle, but as I said, this is like a Game Boy title, mostly in monochrome, but when it does use colour, it uses it well.
Though I wasn’t a fan of the main character, some of the bosses were excellent – proper creepy! They remind me a little of some of the baddies I’ve seen in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (I’ve only had a quick go, but the characters were pretty awesome). When you first encounter a boss, it does feel quite the event, as it should do, but it plays out as another puzzle as you need to place these statues down as your first line of defence and attack as all you have in the bag is your jumping skills.
If you’re a fan of platform games where you need your wits about you and not just merely jumping over obstacles to reach a checkpoint, then Tamashii is well worth a visit. There will be a fanbase, I’m sure, that will think the graphics are fantastic, but I’ve seen this so much on the eShop, and they didn’t stand out for me that much. Then again, this was a one-man-band effort, Vikintor I believe, and that’s a feat in itself.
Tamashii Nintendo Switch Review
An entertaining platform puzzler that pays respect to the 8-bit/16-bit era. Where it lacks in animation and graphics, it makes up for it in some challenging puzzles and a disconcerting atmosphere.
- Genuinely eerie with a superb ambience.
- Some challenging puzzles.
- Tight enough controls to get through the platform sections
- Relatively short.
- The puzzles are more on the difficult side.
- The main character animation felt a bit flat.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Nintendo Switch.