Developer: Two Tribes

Publisher: Two Tribes

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Wii U (reviewed)

Genre: Puzzle

Players: 1

Completion Time: 10-20 hours

Release Date: 04/04/13

ESRB: E

Toki Tori 2+




Having recently finished solving every delightful conundrum in the highly enjoyable BoxBoxBoy! for the 3DS, I was looking for more games to scratch my newly infected puzzle-game itch. So, I set my sights with fresh resolve on my three-plus-years-old digital copy of Two Tribes' Toki Tori 2+, which for one reason or another I had never gotten around to experiencing in full upon its original release. What a brilliant little gem I had almost consigned to the oblivion of my backlog! And as amends for such a near-tragic oversight, I have chosen to compose a belated review.

If memory serves me, the original Toki Tori was set up in a fairly traditional manner, with each puzzle confined to its own isolated stage within a series of stages, through which the player progressed in linear sequence. Toki Tori 2+ mixes things up by grouping puzzles into one long continuous arrangement, and though there are occasional screen changes here and there (probably simply to deal with system memory limitations), none of them returns you to any sort of "Stage Select" hub from which all previously solved puzzles can be accessed. If there is a particular puzzle you desire to revisit, you need to remember its position within the contiguous, interconnected world and hoof it there. This style of world design facilitates the player's inherent impulse toward exploration: similar to modern first-person puzzlers Portal and The Talos Principle, many of Toki Tori 2's best secrets require you to think beyond your preconceptions of isolated puzzles—to find some way of conveying an element from an earlier location out of its apparent confines so that its unique service can be applied elsewhere.

Despite eventually warming up to the merits of this Metroidvania-style approach to the puzzle genre, I must admit that I was not completely enamored of it at first blush. Every puzzle fan knows that the very nature of this kind of game limits its replay value: a riddle's primary appeal is fully weighted toward the initial mental challenge involved in deducing its solution, and needing to go through the motions of solving it again seems like a pointless waste of time. Thus, it felt like it would be a chore to backtrack through stages, trudging through the tangled quagmire of their previously conquered mechanics, just to reach the few shiny collectibles and branching paths I might have bypassed on my first visit. But Two Tribes was both generous with the amount and smart with the positioning of its various puzzle-skipping shortcuts, and among the handful of abilities our egg-shaped avian hero learns as the game progresses, one very helpful song reveals the location of all shiny doodads on both the current stage and the overworld map. So, revisiting old areas to complete my 100% playthrough never became the dour drudgery I originally envisaged it might.


"...similar to modern first-person puzzlers Portal and The Talos Principle, many of Toki Tori 2's best secrets require you to think beyond your preconceptions of isolated puzzles—to find some way of conveying an element from an earlier location out of its apparent confines so that its unique service can be applied elsewhere."


I really liked how subtle the developers were at introducing all the various creatures, obstacles, and other elements that contribute to a puzzle's solution. There are no overt tutorials or text-bubbles blatantly alerting you to the clever nuances of the game's design; the player is left to experiment on her own, without the misguided efforts of an overzealous game designer to filch away her own satisfying sense of discovery. The fact that hermit crabs (and the wooden platforms they have adopted as shells) move toward you when you sing and run away when you stomp… that the bubbles belched by a startled frog can be used to transport yourself or other creatures unto higher elevations… that tall grass conceals your winged avatar from the sight of larger, grabbier birds… the knowledge of how every creature reacts in relation to each other and their environment, and how these behaviors can be manipulated to achieve your goal, is intuitively taught and absorbed through the natural process of exploring the world.

It helps that the functions assigned to your character are inherently simple: apart from standard movement (left and right, scaling ladders to reach higher platforms, etc.), you have a grand total of two abilities—singing and the classic butt-stomp—which when used in different contexts afford everything you need to overcome all conundrums the game throws at you. You may not even initially realize the full scope of every creature or obstacle's potential until you stumble upon it later in the game. For instance, I knew that the little trumpeter snail guy played a note to draw the attention of other creatures (and divert it away from me) whenever I sang in its vicinity; but I only discovered on accident—an unintentional butt-stomp that knocked one of the poor creatures onto its backside—that I could force one into a state of distress, thus causing it to release a continuous loop of notes that could distract all nearby creatures indefinitely. It was a bit of knowledge that was essential for solving one of the late-game puzzles, which heretofore I had given up attempting to crack, and it was a very satisfying "Aha!" moment to discover it in an unrelated context, without any provocation from the game itself, and immediately know exactly the solution toward which it could be applied. And yes, I am well aware of the irony that, in my zeal to scrounge a relatable anecdote to illustrate my fond appraisal of this game, I have now robbed you of that "Aha!" moment that had contributed to my high esteem.

But if you don't want your pristine gaming experience to be marred by any potential spoilers, what are you doing reading a review in the first place? Quit relying on the metric of popular opinion to justify your purchases and preserve the "purity" of your personal collection. Just buy the damn game and try it for yourself. In this particular instance especially, you won't regret it.

tl;dr(bialpos)*

  • With its unique Metroidvania-esque approach to the puzzle genre, the game encourages the player to think outside the confines of individual puzzles in order to unlock all its secrets.
  • Finding how all the elements of a puzzle interact with one another is a process of natural exploration and discovery--the solutions are never blatantly indicated by unnecessarily officious tutorials.
  • With only two abilities at the player's disposal, the basic functions of the game are easy to learn, but the contexts in which they are used continue to expand and evolve in new and clever ways.
  • Some tedious backtracking through previously solved puzzles (though this is thankfully mitigated by numerous shortcuts).

I just learned in the process of researching for this review that Toki Tori 2+'s developer, Two Tribes, will be exiting the game-making business in September 2016 after the release of their final project, RIVE. This makes me feel sad, and somewhat guilty for not having played and shared my positive impressions of the game sooner (though, technically, I did do my part by buying the game upon its original release; and let's be honest: I'm basically rambling to myself here, so my good word would have been as effective at reversing the developer's fortunes as a fart in a hurricane). Toki Tori 2+ is a fantastic puzzler, and I would recommend it to all fans of the genre regardless of the circumstances. But in light of these unfortunate tidings, a purchase now would also serve as a nice (albeit utterly ineffectual) gesture to bid adieu to a talented development studio.

*: too long; didn't read (but I'm actually literate--pahlease! omg**! seriously!

**: ow, my groin!