TOEM is probably the most relaxing and stress-free game I’ve ever played, with no time restraints or anything rushing you to get your butt moving. It is simply a game where you are encouraged to stop and smell the flowers, and even better if you take a picture of them to commemorate your experience. Focusing on enjoying the moments and not rushing through life, TOEM is a reminder that a great gaming experience can be as simple as a black-and-white cartoon adventure too.
Equipped with a camera and a backpack to hold the items and gifts you receive along the way, you set out on an adventure to capture the beauty of the outside world. Everyone in the game is generous, easy-going, and encouraging, and frequently funny-looking in the best kind of way. To travel to different locations on your map, you will have to collect stamps from the community to take the bus for free. These stamps are given by random NPCs who task you with mini-quests that involve using your camera and taking a photo of what they want to see. It isn’t as simple as ‘snap a picture of a tree’ (although that is one of the asks), but it often involves helping other characters before you can unlock a hidden area from which you may need a picture.
Short and Sweet
A beautifully hand-drawn landscape filled with whimsy and wonder, TOEM fully captures the magic of adventure in its simplistic artwork. The majority of the game is focused on taking pictures and viewing the world through a camera lens, and sometimes the things you see may not be the same as what appears in your photographs. There are many characters to meet, animal photographs to collect, and achievements to unlock, and all of this can be done in one sitting, in five sittings, or however long you’d like to take. TOEM is about enjoying the moment, not about reaching the end quickly.
Moving your young protagonist is not hard at all, and you can zoom in and out and adjust your camera as you please. Your character walks relatively quickly, and if you ever want to slow down, you can wear a pair of clogs that you receive from your hometown. Taking photos is just as easy, with one button to pull out your camera and another button to snap your picture. Eventually, you will receive a tripod that you can set up in one spot, and you can move around the area to trigger certain events and handily snap your photo with ease. You can also zoom and flip your camera for a selfie if you’d like; though the angle may not be very flattering, it’s an enjoyable way to capture a moment with your character.
TOEM is a very casual experience, and you can travel back and forth as you please once you’ve unlocked that destination. This allows you to complete side quests at a later time, and also, some quests require you to take photos around the world in order to fulfill the requirements. You will meet a flurry of strange characters no matter where you go, like buff bears in sunglasses dancing to EDM and a random ice cream cone lounging by the water. As long as you don’t take the game seriously, you’re going to have an excellent time.
The worst part about TOEM is how great it is and how short it is. In a way, the game’s length makes it feel less strenuous as your primary goal can be quickly achieved. Of course, TOEM isn’t that short, as if you’re a completionist, it could take a good chunk of time. It is hard to replay since you would know where things are hidden, but I’m sure waiting a few months before picking it back up again would help with the replayability.
We can’t compliment TOEM without mentioning its soundtrack, which fits the game perfectly. The sweet and simple melodies that you play along to brought my mood up, and I cannot say enough how much I needed to play this with the sound on. To be honest, this game would be enjoyable on mute, but the music elevates the experience so much further.
TOEM is suitable for all audiences. Everything from its friendly nature, to the ease of control, to the cute characters and catchy tunes, TOEM hits the mark in many ways. Though I wish it were longer, a part of me thinks the short length adds to the simplicity and relaxation aspect of the experience. It was just so inviting, especially during days where you want to do something easy and not necessarily feel too challenged, making me wish there was more content and areas to explore. TOEM 2, perhaps?
*** A Nintendo Switch key provided by the publisher ***
• Relaxing and stress-free
• Cute artwork and characters
• Suitable and catchy soundtrack
• On the shorter end
• Replayability may be difficult
• Not very challenging