Toby: The Secret Mine Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Lukas Navratil

Published By: Headup Games

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

There’s tons of indie games that have become so acclaimed that they’ve created their own sub genre of games. Toby: The Secret Mine is one of those games that was created through the inspiration of the well-known indie title Limbo. It’s not as easy as just mimicking a hit game though, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the original. Now let’s look and see if Toby: The Secret Mine was able to do that.

Story

Toby: the Secret Mine is a dark 2D platformer about rescuing friends. Toby’s village has been ransacked and what was stolen was the people that inhabit it. The people’s only hope is Toby to adventure through this eerie and grisly world to save them. The story here is a lot more forward in comparison to Limbo’s. It’s less ominous and makes you more aware of what your goal is instead of the more mysterious story that came along with Limbo. At the end you’re going to get the choice between two different endings and that wraps up the story. it’s not a narrative that will compel everyone, but for a select few it may pique your interest to get to the ending.

Gameplay

Platforming and puzzle solving is the name of the game in this freaky platformer. You’ll have to search out levers to bypass obstacles, and push objects to reach platforms. There’s a few enemies you also have to be careful of though for the most part they don’t feel that threatening. A lot of the big creatures end up running away from you like the archer who shoots one arrow and then runs away. Not all of them are like that as there are some that will actively try to kill you until you get past them. Poor little Toby is defenseless and is unable to combat these dangerous enemies. So if you come across one you’ll have to hide away or run past them.

Platforming isn’t always as simple as finding a level or pushing a box. Spikes and falling platforms can be found during the more tense platforming sections and will require some precise movements. Even the more difficult sections of platforming were never too frustrating. However, sometimes the controls did feel a bit off. Jumping on platforms that were distant felt sluggish and sometimes resulted in a death that felt a bit unfair. Luckily checkpoints were pretty frequent and any sections I did have a tougher time with, brought me back to close to where I was. One of my main issues with these puzzles were the amount of things that were hidden. Some of the pathways or items you have to interact with to move on are hidden away behind walls or are underground. I wish there would have been a bit more indication of some of these hidden spots, because I would get stuck on a puzzle for a few moments only to accidentally walk into the place I needed to go. A little more direction here definitely would have been nice.

One gameplay element that differs Toby: The Secret Mine from Limbo are its input puzzles. These puzzles aren’t about finding a lever, but they require you to have actually paid attention to the levels. They come in the form of inputting a password, but you may have to remember the symbols that were in the level or maybe a certain pattern. I think they were an interesting addition, to help separate this game’s identity from Limbo, but the implementation is mediocre.

While I was going through the levels I found it difficult to find some of these patterns and symbols. The second one I got to, I didn’t even know there was anything to be looking out for. It wasn’t always obvious which I understand it doesn’t have to be, because it’s suppose to be a puzzle. The problem is this form of puzzle just doesn’t mix well with the gameplay. Taking time out of your adventure through the sinister environments to do these puzzles hurts the game’s pacing. They really weren’t a necessary addition and became only a hindrance to the game.

Extras

Over the course of the 21 levels you’ll journey through there are 26 of Toby’s friends to save. They are found in cages which can be in plain sight or slightly hidden away. The levels are mostly linear with very little room for exploration so you shouldn’t have a problem finding most of them. there was unfortunately no reward that came from saving all of Toby’s friends and that was a bit of a letdown. Adding something like concept art, or an extra bonus level, or something would have been a nice addition to reward players who take the time to find all of them.

This isn’t really an extra in the sense of a collectible or extra game mode, but at the main menu the number of deaths you have accrued during your playtrough are displayed for you to bask in. I always think little add-ons like this are entertaining, and cool to see.

Presentation

I actually really enjoyed the visual style of Toby: The Secret Mine and preferred it over Limbo’s. Limbo’s monochromatic style fit well with the theme it was going for, but the addition of more color in the dark environments looks really good. The environments feel more unique, and it was all presented in a great way. Specifically, there are a few levels that place you on a glacier where everything around you is pure white. The contrast between Toby’s dark character and these bright white backgrounds were excellent, and made the visuals really pop-out.

Enemy designs while not the most unique looked good and I enjoyed each one appearance.

The soundtrack was calm, but with a gloomy tone. It was fitting with the games environments and mixed well with the gameplay.

Technical Issues

I didn’t experience any problems with the frame rate or resolution during my playtrough in handheld or docked mode.

Summary

While Toby: The Secret Mine doesn’t stand out a lot from its inspiration it tries to in a few ways to its benefit, and to its dismay. The game’s visuals are really nice with fascinating environments. the platforming is alright, although a bit sluggish but, the biggest problem comes from the puzzles. I think the game would have felt much better without the focus on the more complex puzzles. Toby: the Secret Mine might not be up to the same standard as Limbo, but its got some value and is a worthwhile play for those who enjoy these darker style platformers.

6/10

Pros

Awesome Visual Design

Nice Environments

Death Counter 😉

Cons

Jumping to Distant Platforms Felt Sluggish

Not Enough Indication for the Abundant of Hidden Pathways

Input Puzzles Hurt the Games Overall Flow

No Bonus For Saving All of the Villagers

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