Toki Tori 2+ Review

If you read my review of Chromagun earlier this year, I said its biggest downfall was that the puzzles never really evolved, which is a death for level-based puzzle games. Even if your character's mechanics don't change too much, the actual world needs to keep finding new ways to challenge you and make you use those mechanics in surprising and interesting ways. If Chromagun was an example of a game becoming mechanically stagnant as you play through it, Toki Tori 2+ is a perfect example of the opposite; a game that has simple mechanics but constantly delights and challenges you with new ways to use them. Before the game starts, it gives you a screen showing what you can do: A sings and B stomps. Now go save the world, little chicken!

Everything that you do in this game stems from how these two actions affect the world around you. Singing tends to attract things, but can also be used to direct the attention of some of the other animals in the world. Singing also creates songs that help you in different ways. Similarly, stomping usually repels things, but can also be used to make other animals lose their grip, make them stick to other surfaces, or break the ground. Every creature you encounter has its own ways how your actions affect them, and they layer together to create a surprisingly excellent puzzle adventure. 

When Toki Tori 2+ started, I was pretty taken aback at how simple it seemed. This was a game that came out on the WiiU a few years back to very high review scores, so I was shocked that there didn't seem to be much to it. But every step of the way, the game delighted me with something new. When I beat the first level and it revealed the full map of the game, I realized there was much, much more to it than I expected. 

The world in Toki Tori 2+ is an unexpectedly large and interconnected, with fast-travel points, multiple collectibles, optional goals, special songs you can learn, and expert challenges beyond all of that. Even though it can be finished to the point of credits rolling in about five hours, there's still more to return to and discover. There are entire parts of the map that I hadn't touched by the time I had finished the main goal, like glowing sigils I had yet to fully figure out, and I'm sure there's even more I'm missing.

Aside from a small part where telepathic frog pops up and begs you to find it, the game doesn't do much to direct you outright, letting you figure out most of it on your own. I appreciated this, and it has the same hands-off approach to the puzzles. The game does a good job of making most of its tutorials feel organic in a way that reminded me of something like Super Metroid: you'll walk through a part where the game shows you something (these creatures can run on water!) and then it takes you to an area a little later where that's relevant. It shows you, or locks you into a spot where you can only proceed by understanding a specific mechanic that is then layered into other puzzles later. You learn how the birds work alone, then you solve more advanced puzzles with them, and then you include them in with other things that still use the same mechanics. The game constantly surprises you with new applications. It does, indeed, make that first chirp you do and the last chirp you do feel different. 

With that "+" in the title comes the ability to create your own checkpoints wherever, which is extremely handy. Later there are puzzles that need to be solved in steps, and without the ability to make checkpoints, messing one up would require you to start the whole puzzle again. But if you make your own checkpoint after a step, it's easier to experiment and find solutions without the fear of having to waste time to go through it all again. The "+" also includes new puzzles and various other improvements.

I should have never slept on Toki Tori 2 when it first came out, and if you've been interested on it, but never had the drive to grab it, let this review be the thing that pushes you. The improvements and extra things brought to the Switch version make it the most complete and enjoyable way to play it (though the game is also available on PC and PS4). Any puzzle fan's library would be greatly improved with the addition of this game!