Reprinted on Wednesday 31 August 2022: We’re bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of September’s PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text is as follows.
Toem is a very refreshing experience. The game’s scope is fairly small, but it allows developer Something We Made to double down on its novel premise. The end result is a relaxing, joyous adventure about taking pictures and meeting cute characters at every turn.
You set out on a pilgrimage to find the eponymous phenomenon atop a mountain. To get there, you’ll explore a series of enticing locations, completing short puzzles and objectives to earn tickets and a bus ride to the next stop. Presented in black and white, it’s an interesting alternative to the photography game, but it’s full of charm and memorable moments despite its lack of color. Using your camera – which gets some handy upgrades as you progress – you’ll need to assist dozens of characters with a variety of tasks. You’ll find scouts hiding in the woods, help fix generators, and take a ghost out on a date. These motives are surprisingly creative and are never repeated; The whole journey presents you with new things to see and do.
When taking pictures, you’ll go from an isometric view to first person, giving you a different perspective on the world and allowing you to see things you might not otherwise see. You can snap anything you like, and the only restriction is the capacity of your photo albums. There are beautiful and fun things to photograph in each environment, and there are so many secrets to discover while you’re at it. What’s even better is that there’s no pressure—in fact, with the game’s calming music and ability to retreat, you’ll probably find yourself taking your sweet time to soak up everything.
It’s a very simple game that you can easily finish in a weekend, but it’s a satisfying, imaginative and endlessly enjoyable adventure while it goes on.