Toem is a casual exploring game about a boy and his camera and his quest to get the perfect picture. Let’s take out our lenses and see what this game is all about.
Toem starts us off as this young boy and his grandma. His grandma tells him that he must now go on an adventure to capture the beauty of Toem. I don’t really know what Toem was and I think that was where the beauty of this game was. Because it will pique your curiosity and you want to know where this adventure will take you.
The grandma gives him a camera and basically tells you the basics of the game’s mechanics. There has only been a few games that uses the camera as a mechanic so it was nice to see a game doing that here.
You are then instructed to go to the Ticket counter to get a ticker for your bus ride. However, the Ticket Attendant tells you that you need to collect stamps to ride the bus for free. I guess the kid is poor so he can’t just use money to pay for his fare plus the game would probably end without you doing any photography.
This will be the core mechanic of the game. You will need to collect stamps by doing quests or taking pictures in a given area. Once you’ve collected the required number of stamps, you can go back to the ticket counter to claim a stamp that will allow you to ride the bus for free at any time. Although you get a free ticket, the ride will only take you to the next location. It does not actually take you to your actual destination, so you’d have to collect more stamps in the next area to take you to the next location until you get to the final location.
I actually don’t mind that we are taking the scenic route to get to our destination. In fact, I felt like the journey was too short and I wanted more places to explore. In a real world sense, this doesn’t make sense because he can just take the bus that goes directly to his destination, but in a game sense it kind of does. Besides, if it was that easy, the game will be shortlived.
Collecting stamps in each area can be done in two ways: either by completing requests from NPCs or capturing a picture required in each region. Requests from NPCs range from the mundane to the puzzling ones. They can be as simple as taking a pic of the requester or letting you run all over the many sections of the areas to find an item.
There are also requests that are similar in each area. One of them is the requests from the Photo Challenge Club. The Club will task you to take a picture of several items and all they give you is a phrase. You’d have to figure out what they want you to take a picture based on the phrase they provide.
Another quest that goes on in most of the areas is the quest from a Detective. He will ask you to take a picture of a suspicious character that will be hiding in a section of the area. You would have to sometimes rotate the camera (the actual camera that gives you an overview of the area) to figure out where he is hiding.
In some cases, the NPC will ask you to find a person, or find an item. These fetch quests don’t necessarily mean that you take a picture of the item or person in question. Sometimes, you just need to point the camera at them long enough for them to notice you.
Aside from quests that will get you your stamps, you also have a collection side quest. This side quest will have you taking pictures of specific items or objects. Most of these are animals and you will know that an item is part of the collection because they will have an icon above their head once you aim your camera at them. Sometimes you’d have to zoom in your camera to get the icon to show. I feel like this part is a little buggy because there are moments that even if I zoom too close, the collection icon won’t show up. Like when the object you are trying to take a picture of crawls into tall grass, the icon won’t show up for you.
Along the way, our little photographer gets access to certain attachments to his camera that will help him get further in the game. One of them is the tripod that allows him to take pictures of things without having to be present in the area. This is extremely useful when the object you are trying to capture only shows up when you are not facing them. What I don’t like about the tripod though is that you can’t rotate it to position it better. You’d have to face the direction you want it to face so that when you place it down it will be pointing that way.
Another attachment he can get is a horn. The horn allows him to make a noise loud enough to shoo away unwanted animals that are blocking his path. This can also be used to break up ice blocks as well.
Your character can also be customizable with clothes. You will gain access to items of clothing along your journey and some of them are even vital for you to complete certain quests. One example is the sunglasses that allows him to see ghosts if he wears them. One area even requires him to have a full costume for him to be able to enter it. The items of clothing that he can wear are the headgear, eyewear and shoes.
The journey to capturing Toem was a fun experience. The people that you meet, the places that you go to, the quests that you have to do to get to that final place was memorable and interesting. However, once you have gone and went to the final spot in the game. There isn’t much left to do if you’ve already completed everything else. The game feels short but then again I feel like if it was any longer then it will just get boring.
For it being a PS5 exclusive game, it really doesn’t justify why it is so. It really doesn’t fully utilize the console’s capabilities so I was surprised to know that this is not available on the PS4. I feel like a lot of people would have enjoyed this game on the PS4.
Overall, I would recommend Toem for those who are looking for a game that will give them the time to relax. Toem has captured my interest and I hope that anyone who plays it will get captured too.