Tengami Review (iOS)
Solitude. Most believe a state of solitude to be a state of peace. In actuality it is a state of being alone, and it is up to the individual to find peace in that. In Nyamyam’s Tengami, players must try to find their own sort of peace with this puzzler that’s occasionally clever and often solitary.
Before you’ve even begun playing, you’ll probably find yourself engrossed by Tengami’s elegant, eye-popping visuals. This pseudo-2D style adds a distinct flair to the proceedings, rendering the entire game as if it were a pop-up book— and the puzzles take full advantage of that aesthetic. Once you get past the phenomenal aesthetic appeal you’ll find that Tengami is, at heart, a point-and-click adventure, although not in the traditional sense. You won’t be juggling items in your inventory, nor will you be directly interacting with many NPCs. Tengami’s a tacit title, and when it does speak, it does so visually, using universal imagery to portray its story. It’s smart stuff, and the quiet approach works well here (something a few modern titles could probably learn from). There are times, however, where things are a bit too subdued. The puzzles in Tengami are low-pressure affairs; mess up and you’ll start the puzzle over, costing you nothing other than a little time. It’s a mellow game, and sometimes that lack of urgency gives your adventure a somewhat sleepy feel.
As this is a puzzler, you’ll be spending most of your time solving puzzles… although sometimes it feels like you’re spending more time walking from place to place than you are solving anything. The puzzles are great, but some small quality-of-life changes would go far to improve the experience, with the highest on that list being an increased movement speed for the player. As it is now you just kind of mosey along from puzzle to puzzle. You move by tapping the point on the screen you want to move to, and you’ll interact with puzzles by doing the same. Sometimes you’re tasked with swiping across the screen to raise a bridge or move a puzzle element, and it’s at those points where Tengami’s graphics and user interface combine together to create a unique, almost tactile, experience.
When there is music, it’s an arrangement of ancient Asian-inspired pieces that really enhance the atmosphere. More often, however, there won’t be any music— instead you’ll hear the echoing sounds of the environment. Again, this is a nice touch, and sets a distinct mood, but it’s at the cost of player urgency. It’s hard to feel like you need to keep moving when the game is so inert, which is a damn shame given how clever some of the puzzles are.
Tengami’s quiet, slow pace may run counter to modern gaming trends, but its brilliant aesthetic and smartly-crafted puzzles will keep thoughtful players entertained for hours. If you’re looking for bite-sized puzzling action that’s good for when you’re on the go, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for something a bit more cerebral however, Tengami might be just the right title for you.
This review was completed using a purchased copy of Tengami for iOS.