Horror can take many shapes, even on a puzzle platformer. Hope you are brave enough to take this one because this is our Tamashii review.
I was right all along: 2019 IS the year of indies. And this time, we leave shmups aside to take a path that I’m really fond of: horror and Brazilian developers. This one took me quite a while to finish, but I think it’s time to face my fears. It’s time to take a look at one of the most horrifying and tense games out there. And after reading this Tamashii review, I’m sure you too will understand why I’m being so bold by saying this.
Do fear the Reaper
As I always say: the more you talk with an artist, the better you’ll understand said artist’s creation. Vikintor is a Brazilian indie dev who knows quite well how to engage with his games, and it shows on Tamashii. If there’s something I’m always bored to see over and over again on horror games, that’s how they handle this theme. Maybe a jump scare that you can see from a mile away, or just dark corners. Extra lazy points if there’s also a crazy guy screaming and running towards you. But what I love about this gaming genre are two essential things: tension and unpredictability.
The constant dread and fear of knowing that something is coming for you without being able to tell when. Taking a peek at the corner of the screen just to see a creepy face smiling at you only to see it disappear the moment you get closer. Hearing an unnerving melody only to be transported into a world of chaos and pain that leaves you completely helpless. This is horror at its purest essence, and that’s Tamashii’s essence as well.
The best way to approach Tamashii is without knowing anything about it, so you won’t see many screenshots of the game. However, that doesn’t mean I cannot talk about its mechanics. The premise of the game is fairly simple: it’s a puzzle platformer. We can jump, double jump, move and create statues. These statues are basically our way to solve these quite challenging conundrums but fear not. This title knows exactly how to implement new threats in a clever old-school style. No intrusive tutorials, no dumb messages telling you “this thing kills you, watch out!”, nothing. It’s just you, your sense of discovery and learning by trial and error.
This last thing may sound boring for some, but Tamashii behaves like games such as Hotline Miami or Super Meat Boy. Dying is quick, so you can just retry the level in an instant. Did you mastered timing and you want to see something harder? Take more challenging rooms at the end of each level for a better reward at the end. And trust me: with the great soundtrack this game provides, you’ll be jamming while avoiding arrows and spikes and fighting horrible creatures. Yes, you also have boss battles, and they are actually well implemented too! But I won’t talk about them, they are quite a big thing to behold once you reach them.
Short, sweet and spooky
I’d rather play an enjoyable game that takes me less than 3 hours to finish than playing 70 of a lazy uninspired title. Fortunately, Tamashii falls into the first category, and that’s why it’s so damn perfect. Games that are compact but well crafted will always be more loved by people than those who are long just because. As well (I hope) as this review, Tamashii doesn’t want to become something that feels pretentious or just throwing a couple “UGA BUGAs” against you for the sake of it. Every level feels fun, engaging and all puzzles are satisfying to resolve. Controls are precise, the music fits perfectly with each level’s atmosphere and you can never be relaxed while playing it. Is there something wrong then? Not really.
As I said earlier, the best games are those that understand what they want to do without stranding from its path. The moment a developer knows and gets what they want to do, the game born from said developer will be fantastic. You saw it on Devil Engine, on Timespinner and, of course, on Way of the Passive Fist. And I’m happy to say that Tamashii is an experience that you have to try as soon as you can. You don’t need to be a triple A to make a good horror title, and this humble video game just proved me that.