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Capsule Review: The Touryst

A brief but charming action adventure that casts you as a tourist vacationing on a series of small islands. Explore peaceful environments, perform odd jobs, and investigate an ancient mystery. The relaxed atmosphere and varied gameplay are enjoyable but a few difficulty spikes damage this effect.

Gameplay consists mostly of walking around islands talking to people and seeing what there is to do. Some folks need favors and others present you with challenges; these take the form of assorted minigames, platforming sequences, or fetch quests and are mostly optional.

The central thread is investigating a series of “monuments” - ancient and mysterious stone structures that serve as dungeons punctuating the game with relatively tense puzzle and platforming sequences. Puzzles can be obtuse and arbitrary-feeling, but you have few options at any given moment and it rarely takes long to experiment and find the solution - though this can leave you feeling like you didn’t figure out the answer so much as stumble onto it.

Much of the game’s appeal comes from its relaxed, vacation-like atmosphere. The charming voxel-art visuals, leisurely walking speed through small environments, and tilt-shift aesthetic with narrow depth of field encourage the player to focus on what’s right in front of them. The simple and low-stakes story never rushes the player through the game’s objectives (many of which are optional and can be tackled in varying order) or forces them to keep track of what they need to do (a to-do list is automatically maintained). The player is free to wander the islands taking in the scenery, helping people out, and trying the variety of low-pressure gameplay at their own pace. Want to spend an hour in the arcade chasing high scores? Go for it! Want to spelunk in the diamond mine for riches? Have a blast! Don’t want to bother with either of those things? That’s fine too!

Given how well the game maintains this relaxed tone and how central it is to the experience, the most disappointing aspect of the game is its handful of sudden difficulty spikes. Most optional minigames get marked off your to-do list after completing an easy version, leaving their harder challenges for those who enjoy the particular minigame - but a couple require extensive memorization or practice just to get checked off, replacing low-key experimentation with pressure to master non-core mechanics. Worse, some of the platforming challenges in the monuments require more precision than is really supported by the controls, camera, and graphical style which can create a lot of frustration at times that are supposed to be about exploration and wonder.

For less skilled/able players or just less patient ones, these might be an insurmountable barrier. For me, they didn’t overcome the game’s appeal. I really enjoyed my time with The Touryst. It was a relaxing world to occupy and a satisfying one to explore. I would love to see a followup and just hope a bit more care would be taken to smooth out the difficulty curve and prevent vacation-damaging moments of frustration.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game and most optional objectives, ending with a 97% completion rate. (I only skipped the arcade high scores - the driving game was too frustrating for me.)

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.