A puzzle-platformer that remains unremarkable all the way through.
With so much variety in puzzle/platform games, Switch has the genre on lock. With recent games like The Gardens Between and Inside, the genre's quirks knows how to keep you entertained throughout. Sadly, one of Headup Games' latest titles is solid yet quite unspectacular. In Toby: The Secret Mine, you move around and solve the puzzle at hand to continue to the next screen. I wish I could say there’s anything deeper than that, but the problem is that there just isn't much more.
It starts out promising enough. A little demon sees his village attacked by a larger demon with red eyes and gives chase. The little guy is tasked with stopping the big guy's evil plans and saving his pals along the way. The friends can be considered the collectibles in the game as they’re scattered everywhere. Some are hidden in plain sight, while others are placed in locations that aren’t easily visible. It’s hard to differentiate backgrounds from accessible areas, so there are plenty of times where I found one by pure accident. Not the greatest look for puzzle quest like this.
The puzzles themselves are far off from being special. The little demon can’t use weapons, so his only method of self-defense is puzzle solving. Most of the time, I instantly got what was asking from me. You flip a switch, push a block, climb up and do another action that is instantly recognizable. The solutions are fairly obvious in most cases and I wondered on multiple occasions if the next one would challenge me. After a while, a few challenges would throw me for a loop. That loop came from poorly designed levels thatare downright frustrating. Toby is forgiving so I got through them, but that completely changed my feelings in a heartbeat. In some instances, it had some glitchy groundwork that made me fall through floor and land on spikes, it made me a bit disappointed.
Toby looks quite solid at the very least. Every background has multiple layers to it and that looks beautiful in motion. The design of the characters is a bit take or leave it, but they are somewhat expressive. The music and controls are just fine but nothing particularly stood out to me, though it performed perfectly fine on the Switch.
Toby: The Secret Mine doesn’t really leave a strong impression either way. It isn't awful, nor is it good, with two halves feeling very different from each other. The presentation and story are fun, but the rest really doesn't stand out much. All in all, there are better offerings out there that give you more consistent quality. The puzzle-platformer genre is deep, but Toby is nowhere close to that.