STAFF REVIEW of Toy Odyssey (Xbox One)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016.
by Mandi Jennings

Toy Odyssey Box art A little whimsy, a dash of nostalgia, and some serious adventuring - this is Toy Odyssey in a nutshell. I have to give developer Hiker Games some credit here. Although the background scenery may be a tad bit repetitive, they have done an excellent job of switching the game up enough to distract from it (plus the backgrounds are nicely stylized anyways).

You start out as an action figured named Brand, toy to a child named Felix, who has begun to have nightmares after his family has moved into a new home. Your job is to find out more about the constantly changing house, and why its darkness seems to be creeping into your owner’s dreams. This begins in Felix's bedroom; where you have certain stations set out for Inventory, a Workshop to craft and manage your materials, as well as a Build station to protect the room from the toys that have been captured by the darkness in the house. You will want to become familiar with each of these stations, as this isn’t going to be your typical, easy-peasy side-scroller. In other words... you WILL need to utilize these to succeed!

One of the most clever aspects of the game, which really increases the playability, is that every time you’re defeated you’re sent back to the bedroom. Normally this would get frustrating after awhile, especially in the beginning when you’re getting the hang of the game, but with Toy Odyssey this causes the rooms in the house to shift. This means that every time you step out from one of those doors of the bedroom you’ll be stepping into essentially a brand spanking new room. Keep in mind you can always refer to the mini map in the top right corner of your screen to keep an eye on which doors you’ve already unlocked (hint - the red doors are locked).

An important thing to note about Toy Odyssey is that there is very little guidance. You’re given an objective while in the bedroom; however, the objective is very vague (e.g. find so-and-so) and you get no direction on where to go to complete the task. If you’re an explorer at heart, and are like me when it comes to games exploring every nook and cranny of a room/level before moving on, you’ll love this game. If you prefer being given a laundry list of tasks to complete with detailed instructions on how to do it, you may end up rage quitting if your patience is on the low side. You may also spend quite a bit of time finding nothing of importance to the story at all! Once again though, it all comes down to the need to prepare yourself for the increasing difficulty, so being forced to go through endless rooms aimlessly collecting nuts will do you good in the crafting/upgrading/building department.

The audio of Toy Odyssey may creep you out if you’re up late at night getting some midnight gaming in, as the soundtrack is more akin to that of a horror movie, meaning there are breaks in the music amongst the strange ratchety sound effects. It will get you in the mood though, and if it’s really getting to you there’s a handy light switch in every room that you can attack to turn the lights on! Whether the rooms are dark or lit up, there are always plenty of enemies to be found in most of them. I was quite surprised just how many enemies there really are - from toy soldiers, to tanks, and everything in between, including flying books, flying origami cranes, tennis balls, a ninja, and even have Russian nesting dolls, where...SURPRISE! Another nesting doll does NOT appear, but what looks like possibly a samurai with a katana does.

There are a few unexpected surprises in the enemies like this, which just goes to show the amount of thought they put behind their characters. Honestly, I could say that about the whole game. Most gamers can appreciate a throwback to the days of old 8 and 16-bit side-scrollers and Toy Odyssey is well worth it, especially for those looking for something unique in a world where FPS, sports and shooting games are the norm.

The writing font is a bit on the small side for those of us who are a bit further away from the TV, and perhaps a little more guidance would help those who aren't great with trying to figure out what they're doing, but all in all great game!

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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