• Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
  • Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Release Date: November 21, 2019
  • Price: $19.99
  • Review Code Provided: No

The Touryst is a new game from the folks over at Shin’en Multimedia, who you may know from the stellar Nintendo Switch F-Zero stand-in, Fast RMX. Like their previous game, The Touryst is a lovingly crafted game with great music and a gorgeous aesthetic at its forefront. The game was announced during Nintendo’s Indie World stream this past August, and caught the attention of many, including myself. Does the game meet expectations? Actually, yes, but there are a few caveats.

The most stand out feature of the The Touryst is its presentation, so let’s get that one out of the way. This game is gorgeous, even though it borrows heavily from days gone by. This is what drew me to the game initially anyway, as I loved the look of 3D Dot Game Heroes, but never actually had the opportunity to play it for whatever reason. Touryst is obviously quite an improvement, runs silky smooth and each and every person and location has its own personality and style. It’s easy to get lost in the small details of the game like the blocky waves, sand and water droplets when showering as even though they are all just cubes, everything looks believable and immediately recognizable. The best comparison I have is the Lego Movie, but without the purposely choppy animation, and no self-referential jokes regarding the blocky nature of the surroundings. The game is bright, vibrant and full of life.

The sound design further adds to this game’s vibrancy. The titular tourist’s feet plod through the sand with a cute pitter patter matching his stature and small blocky legs. The shift of the sand beneath his feet is perfect and is accentuated by the sound of the waves all around him. When in dungeons, the rocks beneath his feet have a satisfying flat slap as he works his way through. Seagulls call to you as you pass, music blares from a beach side club, and grass rustles as you walk through it. Every piece of the world has a feel and sound to it that speaks to the high level of detail in the game. This is not a simple feat, as even though the game is a short affair (I logged 6 hours beating the game at 78%) there are a ton of different things to do, and they are all satisfying. More on this in a bit.

So what is the game about? It is very simple at its core, and to divulge too much would really be a spoiler. The beginning of the game gives you almost nothing to go on, and simply has you pulling up to an island in a little motor boat. The Captain advises you to “Take your time, relax and enjoy this island,” then waits for you at the dock should you need him. With that, you are on your way to discover the island’s secrets. This is at once charming and irritating in equal measure. It is nice to have a game that plops you down to adventure through the world without hand holding, but there are parts in this game where a little more guidance would be nice. I won’t spoil the story, but there is a an island later on in the game, one of many, where there is no guidance on what needs to be done. Most puzzles in the game are fairly easy to figure out, and the test is through the execution of the solution. The part I got stuck on, and subsequently delayed my review by a day, made me feel endlessly stupid not being able to figure it out. Now, that being said, part of my issue was trying to rush through the game to have this review done within a reasonable time frame. Most people playing the game will not feel that pressure, even though mine was self-inflicted, and may not hit that barrier… for spoilery reasons. There were other parts that did not provide a clear path, but basic exploration and trial and error solved these fairly quickly.

Exploration is key to the game as well, as it is not limited to the first island. The Touryst island, as it is called is the “hub” of the game, and serves as a key point in the story. As you progress and explore Travel Guides are found that you can hand to the Captain, who then takes you to those islands. Each island holds its own inhabitants, their subsequent side quests, and mysteries to discover and unlock. One of the side quests in particular threw me for a loop. As all good Yakuza fans know, a great game includes other older games (it’s a fact). The Touryst comes complete with three retro arcade games, which are playable in the arcade on one of the islands. One of the arcade games is in fact a retro version of Shin’en’s own game, FAST RMX. It plays and looks like F-Zero, and includes one track and a constantly depleting timer that you race against, like a lot of old school racers. Another of the games is basically Arkanoid and gave me flashbacks to a restaurant I went to with my family as a child and I played that game on an arcade cabinet there for about an hour on one coin. The third game I did not recognize, but was ok in its own right. I bring these games up as they are not just a fun side quest, they are also an example of the level of detail put into this game. Each game has their own chiptune score, sound effects and graphics, completely differing from the rest of the game. There are other similar examples in the Touryst of side activities that differ from the mechanics of the rest of the game, but none of them were as unique as this. I tip my hat to Shin’en on this, as it was a truly cool addition that didn’t even need to be included in a game this small.

So, I have a lot of good things to say about the game, but like I stated going into this, there are some caveats. The first being the length of the game. It is very short for what is there. I made it to the end screen at 6 hours and 8 minutes total, but that could have been an hour shorter if I did not get stuck in a section due to the puzzle, or in others due to other issues. This amount of time brought me to 78% completion, which is pretty good in my opinion. The thing is, the amount of stuff left over to complete will likely only amount to maybe two more hours of content. Not bad really, but the scope of this game could have been larger. I have enjoyed other shorter games for sure, but they didn’t FEEL as short as the Touryst does. There is a lot of empty space in the game, with no narrative, and no story to fill in the blanks. This is alright, as it makes the game feel like a truly open exploration game with a dopey Joe Schmo tourist, but left it feeling kind of empty in the end. That said, I obviously have not done the 100% completion, which may unlock a more fleshed out ending, so that could help to alleviate that issue.

I don’t have any inclination to jump right back in and complete the game fully though. I had fun with what is there, but some tasks felt like an absolute chore. Surfing, for example was at times super frustrating due to an unforgiving mechanic, and only having left and right on the joycon stick as the controls. In other areas the platforming can be purposefully difficult, highlighting the 3D perspective shifts you can do with the right stick. The lil tourist controls well, but doesn’t feel that way when you fail to jump onto a small orb puzzle that changes placement with every jump after nearly a half hour of attempting this puzzle room to no avail. Snapping pictures of the scenery and the people in the game as a side quest starts out fun, but I lost interest quickly. Yes I wanted more game, but I didn’t want more side game. The Toursyt would have been served very well with more dungeons and boxy bosses, as they were truly fantastic, and the most enjoyable parts of the game. There are so few of them, that it would be real spoiler territory to mention them more. They really are quite cool though, and saved the game for me.

All in all, The Touryst is a fun little game, with a lot going for it. If you have the spare money to pick this up, and want something quick and fun to get through the weekend, I would recommend the game, just don’t expect too a large game, and some areas may be frustrating. You will get a few laughs and a gorgeous looking game out of it.

8/10