Tengami is a gorgeous and relatively quick game now available on Steam. Developed by indie UK studio Nyamyam, Tengami takes place in an interactive Japanese-styled pop-up book, where you must explore beautiful landscapes and solve puzzles. Originally debuting on iOS last year, this title still utilizes simple click and drag controls to move your character and manipulate the world around you.
The first thing I noticed about Tengami is the eye catching artwork and the accompanying tranquil soundtrack. Each level is (mostly) monochromatic, lending a softness to the surroundings. This monochromatic scheme makes every level feel unique and maintains a cohesive look throughout. Simple layered cut-outs comprise the scenery and can sometimes be pulled, folded, or flipped to reveal alternate routes and hidden areas. Accompanying these scenes is a wonderful and serene sound track, composed entirely by David Wise. The art in Tengami is definitely my favorite aspect of the game due to its striking simplicity, with the music coming in at a close second.
The puzzles you encounter along the way, such as flipping sections of the map around to reveal new routes, were easy and did not provide much of a challenge. They seemed to require more time than effort, sending me back and forth across the map collecting artifacts or changing seasons. Now, combine easy puzzles with very slow paced movement and this game becomes more tedious than enjoyable. I can only imagine it was designed to give the player time to appreciate the scenery and backgrounds, but I found it frustrating after a short while and I was annoyed at having to backtrack repeatedly.
I was hoping this monotony would at least be broken up by an interesting story. It started off strong, introducing you to a mysterious man seated beneath a cherry blossom. Initially it seemed as though this man's story would be expanded on, but instead we are offered only veiled haikus for the duration of the game and left wanting more. I couldn't help but wonder who is this man? What happened to him? And why is he going on this puzzle solving journey? Unfortunately, I never received these answers. However, it does leave room for interpretation of the very few story elements that are revealed.
Tengami's visuals and soundtrack are really well done, but overall it was lacking in substance. I would have liked to see more perplexing puzzles and a developed narrative. That being said, I still enjoyed the ethereal atmosphere and spent most of my time admiring the world around me. Thanks to the short playtime, I didn't end up as frustrated as I could have been. You may want to try out Tengami purely for the art and music, which is what it's really all about.Note: The Tengami review is based on a digital PC copy of the game.