After playing (and loving) the likes of Limbo and INSIDE, I was instantly drawn to Tamashii – especially with its 2D puzzle-platformer gameplay and the fact that it’s set in a ‘world of striking horror and unsettling imagery’. It just seemed to tick so many boxes for me and, after playing, I’m glad to report that it manages to deliver a satisfying eerie experience too.
Tamashii puts players in the role of a creature that has been tasked with clearing out a vicious presence from within a dark temple. This means scouring its many halls, avoiding all of its dangerous hazards, and making sure the temple is cleared of the vile beasts that are lurking around each corner. There are deeper themes thrown into the mix, both with the encounters you have with other characters and the imagery of your surroundings, so there’s actually a surprising amount of depth to be found in the tale. Sure, it’s not lore-heavy and the game is only around two-hours or so long so it’s not something you’ll get too invested in, but it certainly kept me intrigued to see what I’d encounter next.
Traversing across Tamashii’s levels is simple enough, with the protagonist able to run, jump, and double-jump in a manner that you’d expect from a 2D platformer. There are plenty of things that you need to avoid along the way including traps and pitfalls, whilst there’ll also be moments where you need to string together jumps with precision in order to get through some tricky areas.
Whilst platforming is present though, I wouldn’t exactly consider the game as a stern test of your platforming prowess. Sure, there are plenty of ways to die and some will certainly catch you off-guard, but they’re all fairly straightforward in design so they won’t push your skills too much – respawns are instant too, so even death doesn’t keep you out of the action too long. It might look like a typical platformer on the outside, but it’s with Tamashii’s puzzles that its more testing moments come.
The puzzles in Tamashii are based around creating clones of yourself (well… skeletal-like clones) and placing them in specific locations to activate different buttons and objects in the environment, each of which will open up inaccessible areas of each level for you to progress through. It’s a simple concept to get to grips with, but each level introduces different mechanics to the formula to spice things up so it never grows tiresome. The puzzle designs themselves are pretty clever too with most of them carefully crafted to require a fair bit of thinking from the player, whilst some will even require some exploration from the player to in order to overcome them.
Admittedly, the whole ‘cloning yourself to solve puzzles’ thing isn’t the most original of mechanics, but it ensured that players have a decent puzzling challenge to go along with the somewhat simplistic platforming. They’re especially well utilised in the eerie boss encounters that you face, each of which challenges the player to solve puzzles whilst quickly dashing through a variety of platforming challenges. These were undoubtedly the highlight of Tamashii for me, with the grotesque boss encounters offering an impressive test of both your brains and your reflexes.
One of Tamashii’s stand out features is just how unsettling it is. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re playing a 2D puzzle-platformer with a fairly simple aesthetic so you’re not going to be too horrified with its presentation. However, across each environment are all sorts of twisted and disturbing sights, some of which are presented in a glitch-like manner that almost feels like they break the fourth wall – detailing them here would spoil the experience for the player, but they’re certainly up there with the likes of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem with how effective they are at messing with the player’s head. It’s just a grim world to be a part of, but in all of the right ways.
Tamashii is dark, eerie, and a whole lot of fun to play. It doesn’t do anything too original with its simple platforming and puzzle-solving mechanics, but it does offer a world to explore that unsettling and full of twisted little surprises. It’s a bit of a shame that it’ll only take you a couple of hours to see everything it has to offer, but Tamashii is certainly a puzzle-platformer that horror fans will want to check out.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC