Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found (Xbox One Review)
I love metroidvania games. I must’ve sunk triple digits’ worth of hours into Symphony of the Night and it’s a genre I’m always keeping an eye out for. So, you can imagine just how high up my ears perked when I got a look at Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found.It’s not so clear cut, however.
Toy Odyssey features a lot of different elements from different titles. It’s got base building (with mobile-style waiting periods), RPG elements, equipment crafting, procedurally generated environments, base defense, and questing. A plethora of content to sink your teeth in to, but at a cost.
By no means is Toy Odyssey a polished game. Even now the devs are regularly patching it to resolve issues in communication with the playerbase. It’s a testament to their dedication, but also suggests that the game maybe shouldn’t have been released. Movement is juddery and inelegant, attacking and platforming is awkward, multiple enemies seem to have the same AI, and elements of the environment are often hidden behind the foreground.
It’s a shame, too, because on the surface it’s such a visually impressive game. The art direction is really very good, accurately fitting with the idea of being an action figure wandering around a human-sized house. Cardboard boxes work as platforms to climb up to kitchen surfaces and open cupboards give purchase to help you reach high shelves. Boy, does this house have a lot of shelving.
The music fits perfectly too, albeit slightly repetitive. I don’t know how long it’ll be before the arrhythmic piano melody that punctuates most of the game will make its way out of my head, but I didn’t hate it while playing.
This cements the larger issue of polish that the game has, though. Like the dissonance caused by watching incredibly detailed character models robotically slide into positions in other games, Toy Odyssey can be a bit jarring. Brand is well detailed and one of the few actually 3D things in the world, so watching him flick between animations at a millisecond’s notice with no inbetween feels wrong.
And the lack of inbetween stems in to Toy Odyssey’s crushing difficulty. Not only is Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found rough around the edges, it’s incredibly brutal. Death is penalised by shaking up Toy Odyssey’s game world entirely in a procedural fashion. One minute you’ve mapped out the incredibly large house, the next you’ve been blind-sided by a spider and it’s all a mystery again, making exploration of Toy Odyssey a grind.
Apart from grinding out the map layout, Toy Odyssey has actual resource grinding. Used to create equipment, bases and upgrades. You’ll need to strictly limit your exploration to keep your progress. Leave home base, explore 3 or 4 rooms, head back if your health gets below 50%. Rinse, repeat.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the fast travel holes you find were preserved, but those are lost too. The only way to truly, consistently, progress is to NEVER die in a game where high and low difficulty rooms are juxtaposed and death-pits can be hidden by the foreground.
On top of that the base defense elements taken from This War of Mine mean that enemies will attack your home base and steal your stuff. This can range from one or two materials to stealing the workers that you need to build your defences and manage your resources. At one point, I had 20 of my workers stolen and was left with 3. The number of workers you have decides how quickly buildings can be finished too, so losing them can slow your progress to a crawl.
The level of difficulty and length of time that is required to accomplish anything is such that I fear most players will lose faith before they get a fraction of the way in. It sullies the rest of what could have been a really great metroidvania title. One worthy of keeping us ticking over until Bloodstained hits and Igarashi retakes the crown.
If you’re the type of person who loves completely unreasonable difficulty, then you’ll want to give Toy Odyssey some money. Otherwise? Maybe find something else to play with.