Toy Odyssey: The Lost and the Found Review (PS4)
With two of my favourite childhood movies being ‘The Indian in the Cupboard’ and ‘Toy Story’. The prospect of my many action figures coming to life and having adventures of their own was an appealing idea even if I was a bit too old to fully subscribe to it. Developer Hiker Games has tapped into that fantasy with their new title Toy Odyssey: The Lost and the Found.
In the story of Toy Odyssey, at night when their owner Felix is sleeping the toys come to life. And while the ones within the confines of the bedroom are friendly enough, the toys roaming around the house are called the ‘Lost Ones’. These toys have been lost to their owners and become corrupted over time. It is up to Brand to rescue the last few uncorrupted toys and defend the bedroom against the ‘Lost Ones’.
Toy Odyssey is unashamedly a roguelite with a tower defence twist. Every time Brand dives into the house to take on the darkness the house is completely randomised. As Brand fights through the house looking for companions, he will encounter a multitude of the game’s 300+ enemies. The materials and nuts (which are the game’s currency) you collect from scavenging and killing enemies can be used to upgrade Brand or bolster the defences of the bedroom. This is important, because every time you return to the bedroom, whether by choice or by dying, there is a high chance that the Lost Ones may raid the bedroom – stealing some of your previously collected currency and material in the process.
Although I understand that it is par for the course in these titles, the initial grind of the game is not very fun. Similar to Rogue Legacy, where you can unlock permanent upgrades and weapons by doing well on a run and collecting enough coins, Toy Odyssey’s upgrade system does not allow you to see upcoming upgrades. You must spend money on each of Brand’s body parts; i.e. investing in his legs raises their level, and eventually you will unlock a dash. But there is no indication as to how close you are to unlocking the next skill. Or whether there is indeed skill to unlock. However, with enough points invested there was marked difference in the damage that Brand was taking and his movement speed.
Also the blueprint system for weapons is based on luck. Each weapon type has its own upgrade path. For example, you start with a plastic sword and may be able to upgrade it to the wooden sword if you have unlocked the blueprint. Unfortunately if you unlock a mid-path weapon and have none of the stages before there is nothing you can do. I understand that this system is put in place to increase the longevity of the game. However, it led to long periods of play where I was stuck using really basic weapons, even though I had unlocked a few stronger variants.
The weapons do actually play differently from each other. You get longer piercing weapons such as polearms. And heavier weapons such as greatswords that have large wide attack arcs. Toy Oddysey’s combat itself is not entirely exciting. Enemies are quite swift and many of the starting weapons have little to no blowback. So it’s sometimes hard to avoid combat without retaliation. Also, your defensive options are limited as you unlock dash which does not help much in combat situations. Often I found myself in a position where it’s quite difficult to tackle the enemy above you without taking some damage in the first place. Often, whittling enemies through thin walls to avoid damage is a better tactic then actually taking them on, due to the game placing putting them in awkward positions where it would be difficult to take damage otherwise.
However, once through that grind you are in a place where you can comfortably take on the challenges that the house throws at you. This is when Toy Odyssey becomes pretty fun. The issues mentioned above are still an issue. However, they become less of a problem as you are able to nimbly glide around and avoid fall damage, turn lights on with ease and navigate away from danger. It just takes a lot of grinding to get there.
The gameplay loop understandably does not evolve that much, but Toy Odyssey makes a vested effort that most of its contemporaries do not; with good voice acting and dialogue that adds structure to the events unfolding. As you rescue toys, they will generally give you missions for you to complete. For example, a task like “Kill 5 bats with just shurikens“. Due to the procedural nature of the house it can take a while to complete these missions. Thankfully they carry across runs. There are also challenge chests that unlock that can net you blueprints if you complete the challenge in the room.
Visually the game looks quite nice, with semi-animated backgrounds and a distinct art style on the characters. Although, it is sometimes hard to tell which elements of the rooms you can navigate on, versus those in the background. Coupled with Brand taking fall damage, this can be somewhat irritating. The soundtrack of the game is quite fitting. In the dark, ambient unsettling sounds and music that could be described as creepy fun fair music, set the tone. The tracks are quite short and don’t loop, so if you are exploring a large room you may find yourself navigating in silence.
Toy Odyssey highlights the best and worst in roguelites. When it gets going it can be exhilarating. But it can take you an awful long time to get there. And with it having small but distracting issues that other games in the genre have tackled with more finesse, it’s hard to recommend it over other titles in the genre if you have not played them. But if you are looking for a roguelite with a narrative theme there may be a game for you here.
6 toys rescued out of 10