At its core, Toki Tori 2 is a minimalist 2D indie puzzle-platformer with an interesting art style. Sound like every other independent game ever made? Don’t be fooled. Two Tribes’ latest effort, a sequel to the original Toki Tori made for Wii U eShop, is about as interesting as puzzle games get.
There is no title screen, no significant story and outside of one instance of displaying the title during the first level (which you’re immediately thrown into), I’m not sure if I can recall a single piece of text displayed in the entire game. Furthermore, the only controls needed to play the game are left and right on either the analog stick or d-pad, and the A/B buttons on the GamePad.
There are no tutorials, no substantial cutscenes, and no hint system to guide you through the game. Through playing with the controller, you figure out that Toki Tori can move left and right, and the two aforementioned A and B buttons are used for whistling and stomping. As you play you realize that whistling attracts the critters in the game and stomping pushes them away as well as other stuff like breaking brittle ground. Since there is no jump button, moving Toki Tori left and right can make him go up very short inclines, but to go from Point A to Point B and complete levels, you will need to use these two powers to constantly manipulate the environment correctly and reach the goal.
The brilliance of Toki Tori 2 is that in making the game focused around solely pushing and pulling, Two Tribes uses this simplicity to its fullest, creating countless clever situations to take advantage of the gameplay. At first, the game starts as simple as “If I move this here or make this do that, then I should be able to get up there”. However, as the game progresses (at least around the halfway point), the idea of getting to Point B turns into a far more complex, difficult, and frustrating exercise in backtracking, redoing, and spending a half hour (which eventually becomes well over an hour) figuring out what should be a simple solution.
I can’t knock a game for being hard (and I love that), but because of how pure the gameplay experience is (the levels flow so smoothly that the entire game is one puzzle after another with nothing to break it up) and how frustrating the game gets without any kind of hints, it’s immeasurably appealing to give up on this game when the only thing waiting for you is an even harder puzzle. With that said, the game takes hours and hours to complete, and despite some minimal puzzle repetition, Two Tribes has outdone themselves in the actual design portion of this game.
The sound is well produced and the theme song catchy, but the real star of the show is the visual design. In spite of being a puzzle game, Toki Tori 2 offers a living world populated with vibrant creatures and beautiful environments. It is one of the best-looking games on Wii U by far, and it looks great on the television or on the GamePad through off-TV play.
With 12 hours in and no end (or monotony) in sight, Toki Tori 2 is one of the purest and best values on the Wii U eShop. It may be difficult, frustrating, and easy to give up on, but you would be unwise to not at least give the game a fair look.