Toy Story this is not.
Metroidvania style games seems to be rising in popularity. Words like procedurally generated and rogue like are also a trending note on games released over the last year or so. Add in crafting and I’d say a dev has hit all the trending gameplay mechanics. So suffice to say, for better or worse, if those are key words that spring to mind fun and excitement in videogames, Toy Odyssey is something that might garner attention, yet it’s still a game I’d go into with mild expectations.
You get a genre, and you get a genre
The idea here is simple enough. A family moves to a new house, happy and loving that they have a brand new start in a new place. Though like a twisted style of Toy Story come to life, they don’t know the evil that lurks with the present or lost ones in the house. Some of the toys are ready to help stop this darkness though. Brand, an action hero come to life, along with other toys will join together to stop this evil. Honestly, Toy Odyssey’s story is probably one of the more interest things to mention – the idea of a family moving into something evil and toys coming to the rescue leaves players with a simple yet intriguing set up. With lots of dialog and story exposition, that the devs make very well known in their game description players can skip if so choosing, I found myself enjoying the ideas behind this. It’s the rest of it that left me quite disappointed.
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
How long to beat: 15+ hours
Visuals are another aspect I think that they nailed. Colorful yet dark, fun designed toys coming to life, and something as normal as a room in a house, that can become dark and eerie give off a sense of dread in familiar places. The music, which I felt was enjoyable, would also seemingly just stop after playing for a while, only to return if I went to another room. Intentional, not sure, but seemed like a big omission if so. Within the genre though we have two core concepts that need to be nailed for a success, platforming and combat, and both under deliver. Combat in essence works as it should, using weapons and abilities, and upgrades from metal bolts and nuts found from defeating enemies. The actual fighting just doesn’t feel good. Enemies don’t react, they continue to sit there and absorb damage and it became a battle of patience. The vast amount of different toys to fight is nice, as some look like GI Joes or a Xenomorph from Alien. Fighting just isn’t very fun and hurts the game.
Exploration is decent enough, with the procedurally generated rooms that change each night, usually requiring players to find a key to unlock a door or perhaps busting open a rat hole in the wall to use as short cuts to return to previous areas. It’s fun in that exploration, but when trying to jump from the various platform elements like bookshelves, chairs, and other environmental objects, it feels stiff, stuttering even at times. It doesn’t feel smooth in the slightest, and in this genre that’s a big problem. There an interesting mechanic of crafting, creating weapons to help protect the home base room while players are away, but it feels like a suitable mode added to a game that didn’t necessary need it.
Reach for the sky
It’s a shame to say, but Toy Odyssey disappointed me almost from the start, but in a very conflicting way. I immediately could tell the core action and platforming where rough, but I enjoyed the visuals and story elements. A game that quite frankly walks a straight line right down the middle for me. As a game, I grew frustrated with it, as an idea I wanted to like it more. If players are dying to get their hands on another metroidvania style game that has a unique concept behind it, it’s not a horrible game to take a chance with. Just know going in, its core mechanics definitely needed some fine tuning.
Favorite moment: Exploring the house, turning on lights and killing toys that reminded me of my youthful years.
Worst moment: Trying to platform to another section only to fall, or coming up against enemies that feel like a grind for damage.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.