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  1. #1

    [PC] Tasomachi: Behind The Twilight

    Playism have been banging about this game quite a bit, and it finally got released a couple of days ago.
    Let's get the technicalities out of the way: Tasomachi is limited to 30fps no matter what graphical setting you use, and those are limited to a preset range of resolutions ranging from "lowest" to "highest". I think lowest is below 720p, while the highest is 4K; not entirely sure though. From what I've gathered this is to have the game running with all effects and maximum drawing distance at 30 all the time, with no pop-ins or texture loading. I think this is a clever solution, considering that Tasomachi is the brainchild of nocras666, a talented artist, and part of its charm is how the game looks. Controls are through pad or keyboard + mouse, and you cannot reassign them; pad prompts are X Box style no matter which pad you have hooked in.

    The story is told through an handful of dialogues and black screens with white text, and for whatever reason developers chose to go with the most boring and generic sans-serif font ever. There are no voices, and the game is strangely quiet: there's always music, but even during the most intense moments it never quite rises up to the challenge, feeling very subdued and a bit out of place when tracks sound a bit too modern. This is detrimental to the game, as you kinda expect a powerful musical score to match the visuals, because Tasomachi is one good looking game. Maybe not so much when you run on foot around the cities composing the game world, but jump your way to the roof of one tall house, look around, and the scenery can be downright breathtaking. The sense of scale is incredibly well-rendered, with cities dotting steep cliffs plunging down into pristine lakes, with the occasional tree breaking up the sequence of rocks and bricks. There is a day/night cycle, and when evening comes lights turn on at random, and different light sources give out different coloured lights that further give each location its own personality. Again, it might not be evident if you simply stroll at road level, you need to jump your way to the highest point you can and soak into the ambience.
    A lot of building are repeated inside cities and between locations, but their height and masterful placement along the environment makes every place feel unique, although you can see this has been done by a very small number of people and they focused on creating a limited number of good art assets. The game further opens up when you get your airship, and going around locations by zipping below bridges, buzzing buildings, and exploring cliffs is both relaxing and fun, and part of me wants the whole game to be about unlimited flight.

    Tasomachi is a platformer at its core. You guy Kurumu in the task to collect Essence Of Earth tokens to restore the Sacred Trees, first to lift the twilight fog engulfing locations, then to fully repair your airship, and finally gaining enough power to leave the game's lands. The first two hours are dedicated to explore the four main cities (plus one that works as your base of operations where you can change outfits and see the furniture you bought around the world) and get extra abilities for Kurumu, like a ground stomp, an air dash, and a double jump. Which the game calls "float", but whatever.
    Tasomachi is not the most challenging game out there, there's no combat (at least not up to where I played), you don't take damage jumping down from any height, and plunging into water (the only way to die I've found) simply respawns you at the checkpoint with no penalties. I would hesitate to call Tasomachi a puzzle platformer, because the hardest puzzles I've found are about hitting tiles in the correct order, and in a way it reminds me more of Rare games on the N64, as you have to go around places and gather as many tokens you can. Kurumu's jump is very floaty and it's the kind of jump you'd expect would break the game letting you go where you are not supposed to by fidgeting just the right way, but to the game's credit this never happened...mostly because the game allows you to jump on everything and Kurumu can cling effortlessy to even almost vertical surfaces. it takes a bit to get used to some jumps, as they often require to leave the ground at the very end of a platform and squeeze every last millimetre out of your jump before activating abilities, and you would still reach your target by a magic pixel. It is a bit clunky, and I've also noticed that you gain a lot of momentum when moving and jumping (kinda similar to Portal), but platforming challenges are built around this clunkiness and never feel frustrating, although there are some rooms that rely a bit too much on those stretched-out jumps. Movement controls feels also a bit loose and I'd love a sprint/run button, and I'd say that if movement and jumping where a bit tighter, Tasomachi could have been a great platformer, challenges ramp up in difficulty nicely and there are some good stage layouts, and the incentive of exploration always pushes you forward to get more toekns to progress. I could do away with teleporter puzzles in which you have no hint on what teleporter you need to go through though.

    There are over 200 tokens to collect, and right now I'm half of that, though it seems the game only requires 150 to be completed. Unfortunately it seems that after getting the airship (90 tokens) there are no new locations, although old ones get a new coat of paint and more NPCs; you don't really interact with NPCs, they are just there to give hints on how to get some tokens. I particularly like how one NPC tells you "I take good care of my vases" and to get the token you have to smash them; when you meet the NPC he goes "You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?". Or the little kid who lost her baloon and you have to pop every baloon you see. Who cares about you, I've got tokens to collect!
    Also collecting money sounds like dropping pencils on hard floors. Weird.

  2. #2
    Game completed with 150 Source Of Earth tokens out of 200ish.
    There's nothing much to add to the previous post, if not that the final sequence is a bit surprising and that the end comes very abruptly, along a tease for a sequel, which I would go for if the few chinks are ironed out.

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