Toby: The Secret Mine by Headup Games is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that was inspired by games like Limbo and Badland. Anyone familiar with those games will feel right at home with this one. There’s much more influence from Limbo in gameplay and overall tone.
Yet another game running on the Unity engine, Toby: The Secret Mine is fantastic to look at. Unlike the dreary black and white of Limbo, Toby: The Secret Mine is full of colors. Just when it starts to feel like the background is getting a bit boring, the level ends and the scene changes. It even uses its dark and colorful level design in the puzzles. Every level has its own unique color palette with the “white” level really standing out from the rest.
The tone of Toby: The Secret Mine is very similar to Limbo. From the beginning of the game it feels dark and gritty. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but not so ambiguous that you can’t figure out it is not a happy ending. It was puzzling why the other lifeform the player is chasing throughout the game continues to run away. The player doesn’t possess any super powers, and is half its size. There are other characters being captured that the player can free along the way. They only serve as treasures to be found since finding them isn’t required to complete the game. One could even argue, given the game’s dark twist, that finding all of them is even worse.
The gameplay is made up of running, jumping, and solving puzzles. Pretty standard fair for game of this nature. Overall, it’s a rewarding experience that teeters on the line of overwhelming frustration. The player will have to memorize the levels for the quick and deadly parts, so be prepared to die and die often (dying 100 times is even a trophy). This part of the level design is used to break up the pace of figuring out environmental puzzles. Most of the puzzles use the classic pull lever/push box formula. There’s also clever use of physics within the puzzles with one part requiring the player to run back and forth to change the position of a seesaw like platform whilst it moves through environmental hazards that was one of the major highlights. Most of the levels consist of a colorful background with a stark black contrast of the playable area in the front. This is used to hide many of the levers and boxes required to continue. It’s a refreshing new idea that wasn’t overused, and was always fun to figure out. One of the stand-out levels was the aforementioned “white” level. This particular level really played with the use of color and contrast to make for an engaging experience.
Toby: The Secret Mine is good. It has solid mechanics, clever puzzles, good pacing, and great visuals. It is really short, however, and could leave players feeling like they’ve been ripped off. Therefore, Toby: The Secret Mine is a solid 8 out of 10.
Toby: The Secret Mine PlayStation 4 Trailer:
Toby: The Secret Mine launches on PS4 July 6, 2017.