WARNING: This is going to be one hell of a ride that may make you very uncomfortable!
Talking about religion in games is one of the most delicate and unsettling themes. But it hasn’t stopped the Brazilian developer Vikintor from addressing this topic in the games he has developed and published. Today we’re going to review one of his latest projects: the disturbing Tamashii.
Released in the 1st quarter of 2019 for PCs and now published by Digerati on all platforms, Tamashii (“spirit” or “soul” in Japanese) is a very intriguing puzzle platformer that places you, a neophyte soul working for the master of this temple with the mission to identify the origin of the disturbance your master felt. Identify the font of this corruption, take down all the guardians and uncover the hidden mysteries of this temple in one of the most intriguing and grotesque games of the year!
What do you do? In Tamashii you explore a corrupted temple (which works as a level hub), venture through each one of its chambers (which work as levels) and explore its many secrets. Your only weapon is the ability to create tokens of your character (up to three at the same time) that disappear after a few seconds. With them, you will solve puzzles and face enemies and bosses of this vile place.
What we liked!
- Disturbing audio: Before starting your adventure, the game tells you this title will be better enjoyed using a headphone. I don’t usually play with headphones, but today I tried it. And I have no regrets. The music has some calm tones that help to build up the tension as you advance in each chamber up to the confront with the guardian of that chamber. The sound effects are of equal quality, dark and uneasy. In a few moments, there is some very uncomfortable voice that will surely hunt me at nigh today.
- Brilliant gameplay: The gameplay of the game is quite simple but very challenging. The exploration is a key element of this game: there are hidden rooms, concealed messages and many other secrets for you to uncover. So, go out exploring that temple and its chambers. Each chamber is composed of a series of stages with a boss at the end. One stage before the boss encounter, you’re given two options – doors – to select, one with an easy and one with a hellish difficult puzzle. If you go for the challenging one, after beating the stage and the boss, you will receive a special stone needed or a sixth – and secret – chamber. Every chamber introduces a new unique mechanic that will be your main element to solve its puzzles. The mechanics aren’t all that original, but they were so well implemented and explored in the game that makes it extremely pleasant. Your constant failures will always have that feeling of ‘just one more try’ that keeps you motivated until the end of the adventure!
- Breaking the fourth wall? There are some unsettling moments that the game will throw random things at you, seem buggy or even giving you some jumpscares (sorry for the spoiler). Although these moments break the immersion of the game, they brought another interesting experience to the table in moments I wasn’t expecting. They haven’t actually broken the fourth wall but introduced many curious elements not related to the game in any way.
- Grotesque visuals: This one-man project is a pixel-art game that tries to bring a vibe from indie and obscure games you can only find in the deepest corners of the internet. But truth be said: there’s an interesting level of detail in the scenarios of this game. The smart use of light and shadow, the visual glitches and effects do wonders for this title! Be warned, though: all levels, scenarios and stages are stuffed with demonic statues, shadow glyphs and horrendous creatures. And I shall emphasize the level bosses from this game: they are pure nightmare fuel, ready to disturb your sleep. I really don’t like the themes used in this game, with strong Luciferian and disturbing elements. So please keep your children away from the television when playing this game, ok? You can remove effects like blinking lights, image distortion and scan lines but I don’t recommend doing it: these effects have an important role in the game, building up the sensation you’re playing one of those creepypastas of the internet: there are many visual glitches and errors that increase the stressing atmosphere in combination with the music, making Tamashii a unique adventure.
- Score attack: After you finish each one of the chambers, you can revisit them and try a score attack mode, winning points by finishing the stage in a pre-determined amount of time (and with a bonus for completing them without dying). Beating the top-score and earning those achievements will give you some work – especially if you are not a fan of time attack/score attack game modes like myself.
What we disliked
- Too short: My only complaint about the game is that the adventure had me really engaged (something that usually doesn’t happen with puzzle games) and wishing for more after the end. You can finish your adventure in something between 3 or 4 hours if you don’t get stuck at any particular level. If you’re aiming for fully complete the game though, it may take twice that much time.
Although its heavy and unpleasant thematic, full of references of demons and things that may bother you, Tamashii is a great game. One of the best – if not the best – puzzle platformers I’ve played this year. With interesting gameplay elements, a disgusting – but well developed – art and sound that creates the perfect atmosphere for a true horror game – even though this one isn’t a horror game. I feel genuinely surprised by the overall quality of this title – especially because this is a one-man project and even more because it’s a Brazilian title that went fully unnoticed by me. If you’re up for something different, even though this ‘different’ can mean some discomfort, you should give this title a try!
Written by Rafael
Xbox writer for LifeisXbox
Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.