Tengami caught our eye well over a year ago at the Eurogamer Expo back in 2013. Amidst the throng of noise and colour around the Nintendo stand was an unassuming screen displaying a delicate looking game. A very apt first impression, this is a very calm and thoughtful game that is much more about contemplation and the journey than it is about simply getting to the end.
There is no real plot to speak of as your journey follows a lone Japanese wanderer as he seeks to return four cherry blossoms to a bare cherry tree. It’s very similar in tone to something like Journey where it is the adventure that subtly writes the story into the minds of the player rather than having it explicitly stated.
The main draw of Tengami is its art style. The world and everything in it are created to look like a paper pop-up book. The game starts by opening the book and as you progress you literally turn the pages. The environments are absolutely gorgeous and no other game has had us continually reaching for the Wii U screen shot button. It is also underscored with some lovely sound to fully immerse you in the oriental world it is portraying.
Aside from wandering around beautiful environments you will need to solve puzzles in order to progress. This is done via the Wii U pad and generally involves sliding things around or making different parts of the environment pop-up. There are also musical puzzles (normally revolving around bells), and puzzle boxes that need to be unlocked by looking around the environments for symbols.
The puzzles range from being very simple to quite fiendish in design. The puzzle boxes which require looking around the environment can be very tricky – until you realise you may need to hold turning pages half open to see some of them. It certainly makes you think and there is nothing here that should stop you completely dead in your tracks for long.
Our only real gripe with the game is its length. We managed to get through it in a couple of hours and though there are Miiverse stamps to collect there isn’t really too much to come back into it for. Unlike journey where the thrill of the ride is enough to replay, here you already know the puzzles so unless you want to wander the beautiful world again there is very little to draw you back.
This certainly isn’t going to be for everyone, it moves at a fairly slow pace and there is a lot of wandering to be done between puzzles. That said, we feel that everything it sets out to do it has accomplished pretty much perfectly.
Overall, Tengami is unashamedly the game it wants to be and there is little compromise to players that might not get it. For those looking for something different this could be the perfect game. It merges the concepts of art and video games and has created something unique. Yes it’s short, but the fact we wanted more speaks volumes of the experience we had with it. There are things here that will make you smile and show you small moments of magic and for us that’s more than enough.