Developer: Nyamyam
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

There’s one comparison I made when I immediately started up Tengami, and that was Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. Like that classic adventure game, this is a game with style for days. But that’s where the comparisons end: Tengami lacks substance.

tengami_forest_wolf_islandThe pop-up book look of Tengami is distinctive and fantastic: it forms the aesthetic of the world, along with the Japanese-inspired universe that the events take place in. Scenery folds up and expands from the world, forming new places and situations for the player to explore and interact with. The controls are simple enough: tap twice to move to a place, and then just tap on any glowing object to interact with it. The soundtrack is exquisite: at one point while distracting myself from a frustrating puzzle that had thrown me off, I wound up just listening to the game soundtrack inadvertently until the screen auto-locked. It all creates a world that’s just amazing to play with.

For the first 5 minutes, this is a 5-star game, and no matter what, it needs to be seen in motion.

But the problems with Tengami start with the realization of just how slow it is. So much of the length of the game – which may be only a couple hours for smart and focused players – has to do with the protagonist’s lethargic speed, which seems like a nice stylistic touch early on but after a short while caused my internal monologue to scream “run like hell already!” Sadly, he did not listen. Puzzles also start to involve backtracking, which becomes a slow, un-fun slog.

tengami_ocean_mazeThe puzzles traverse a line between being clever, with some hidden secrets to try and figure out, and just being obscure. One puzzle involving ringing bells had a solution that mostly involved “ring a bunch of bells in some semblance of order until the game says the puzzle’s solved.” As well, other solutions can just feel frustratingly obscure, like the game’s actually much more clever than it thinks it is once the puzzle’s ultimately solved. This lack of satisfaction leads into the ending, which doesn’t really have much payoff for the player. It’s just over.

Really, it’s all quite a shame. Tengami’s production values are through the roof, and those looking for an audio-visual feast won’t be disappointed. But those looking for the next artistic game of utter genius like Sword & Sworcery will need to keep waiting.

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