Previously a Wii U eShop exclusive, Two Tribe's cute and accessible, yet challenging, puzzle-platformer Toki Tori 2 now comes to PC and Mac via Steam. Featuring a level editor with Steam Workshop integration and gameplay refinements since the Wii U release, Toki Tori 2+ is sure to delight fans of the original and seekers of accessible puzzle platforming.
I recently picked up the original Toki Tori on Steam during a sale and tweeted my way around several of the many levels that were set against six different themes. Controlling the little scared bird proved instantly accessible yet deceptively challenging at times. While the original game was setup as a series of numerous one-off stages in which the player collected eggs, Toki Tori 2+ (TT2+)has a more fluid and open design to it. There are clear start and end points to levels, but rather than being limited by a single "screen" or two, players advance through multiple screens, horizontally and vertically, to eventually reach an end point. Stages can be revisited via a world map reminiscent of a Super Mario, too.
Accessibility is just as potent as it was before, if not more so. With TT2+, the d-pad moves you (although you cannot jump or crouch) and Z and X are used to Whistle and Stomp. Whistling and Stomping are literally the only two commands you have. For some NPCs, Whistling gets them to turn direction or move closer. Stomping is used to activate floor objects or encourage NPCs to move out of your way. These abilities are used in a variety of other ways too, of course. It doesn't take but a half hour or so to get the hang of it, and I thought it was an interesting and ultimately good choice for Two Tribes not to explain anything -- no tutorial pop-up messages or anything like that to clutter or disrupt the pacing in those precious opening minutes. That said, sometimes that obscurity can be annoying when you're struggling to figure out how to proceed past the platforming puzzle immediately in front of you. Unlike the original Toki Tori, there are no Wild Cards to skip stages since the stages here are more bound together.
Plenty of environmental (and thus) platforming challenges await. The simplicity of only having Whistle and Stomp sort of limits the complexity, but it also doesn't feel nearly as rigid as the hard limit of special power uses per stage that the first game had. Still, there are plenty of head scratching moments in TT2+, but unlike solving a puzzle in a more "significant" game, getting past a real challenge in TT2+ often feels like relief than triumph if you know what I mean. What I realized with the original remains true in this sequel -- it's the type of game that can kill time, be fun, even addictive, but when the going gets tough those positives fade faster than a game I'm more invested in. Anyway, TT2+'s design, whereby the story and levels are more robust and interconnected, makes the entire experience a lot more meaningful than the first. That translates to more replay value and tolerance (although that seems like too strong of a word).
If the simple accessibility and initially-inviting difficulty doesn't rope you in, the presentation may very well. At full detail in 1080p, TT2+ is a really pretty game. The bright color palette and uber-rich animated image quality is a treat to see, not unlike a Pixar film on Blu-ray for example. Of course the main character, Toki Tori, is as cute as ever as the chubby scared bird that could. Some scenes have you in complete darkness with only Toki's large eyes visible, it'll garner a smirk out of just about anyone if not more. A very fitting soundtrack compliments the visuals pleasantly as well. Using melodies to enact certain actions like rewind (which now zips your directly back to a checkpoint instead of giving you fluid control) is neat, too. To do a melody, there are about five if I'm not mistaken, you first must learn it from another bird, usually near the end of a stage. Then, you just Whistle to recreate the short tune. This requires just tapping and holding the Whistle button for short and long tweets respectively. So combine all that with snappy, near instant load times, and you've got a great presentation.
With that, let's get to the summary...