Friday, January 16, 2015

Indie Impressions - Tengami


Now Available on Steam (also available for WiiU, iOS)

Developed by Nyamyam

Tucked away within the confines of a treasured pop-up book featuring a vivid far eastern landscape and natural entities of the surrounding wildlife; Tengami is a casual but moving journey with very few, if any, words yet still manages a majestic story told merely through imagery.

The experience is described by the developers as something they envisioned being played "in bed before going to sleep or in the afternoon on the sofa with a hot beverage", and I felt that description was very apt. As I played from my shabby studio apartment on a cold and rainy day with some hot tea completing each relaxing chapter I felt a particular sense of warmth, a certain kind of satisfying radiance. I almost forgot about the cold, grey city surrounding me that I call home.

As you move through each beautifully vibrant page of an old Japanese pop-up book that act as chapters to the story, you are faced with earthly obstacles that stand in your path. Finding the solution to uncovering the brighter path ahead of your wintery beginnings involves puzzle-solving of a very organic kind, puzzles that feel less like interacting with a game and more like interacting with nature itself.

All around you rivers, temples and old wooden bridges pull out from tabs in pop-up book fashion, revealing the beaten path ahead which beckons our unknown hero on his mysterious adventure. In a snowy forest a wild pack of wolves howls in unison to the sound of wind chimes you control in a game of 'Simon Says', a strange and ancient bell changes the seasons at your will altering the land to reveal new key items to collect, and an old broken wooden boat must be reconstructed with fragmented pieces pulled from the ocean waters among swimming fish.

The wonderfully natural atmosphere of the game is complimented by the twanging of Shamisen or Koto and calming sounds of wooden flute, all drawing you into a zen-like state of deep calmness. The usage of colors makes everything incredibly pleasing to look at and each visual theme is very evocative of its respective season.

Spring environments have a lush green with blue flowing rivers, and Fall stands out with its vibrant pinkish-orange hues much like a sunset, with Winter bearing a harsh mixture of white and greys with frozen rivers that no longer flow. The settings all glow with a distinct array of colors that evoke the same shifting of emotions our real-world seasons stir in us.

Tengami exists outside of the boundaries of any particular demographic, being something that is just as enjoyable to the youngest audiences as it is to the oldest. If you aren't too caught up on games needing to be difficult or long, or "hardcore", then this is by far the most memorable and comforting trip into a Far Eastern world of mystique.

Enter and witness nature and the changing of seasons conveyed through a colorful world of picture book pages, flip through the dusty old pages of Tengami.

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