There are many different ways to play games, and Tengami is a representative of that. Nyamyam have created a very different experience on Wii U, and one that is best played with a pair of headphones and a GamePad screen rather than a widescreen TV and loudspeakers.
This isn’t because the game is not beautiful, however; the opposite is more true. Tengami is focused around the theme of Japanese arts, crafts and origami, and the folding world is brought to life brilliantly. The delicate beauty of paper art is shown through the thin layers of the world, which even makes progressing from one area to another interesting – the world folds itself intricately into new landscapes as you progress from area to area.
Tengami was originally an iOS game, and it shows through the use of the GamePad and its stylus. The whole game is played with the touch screen and you will soon find yourself disregarding the TV near you. In fact, to get the maximum out of Tengami, get yourself a good pair of headphones and turn your attention to the GamePad screen. The lovingly crafted visuals still come through, and you can even appreciate the delicate folds at a closer view. Only emphasising the need for headphones is the superb score from David Wise; yes, David Wise, famous Donkey Kong composer! The atmospheric music is a large part of the soothing effect this game has.
Presentation is the basis of what makes the game stand out, but the addition of the GamePad controls is what pushes the Wii U version on. Using touch to interact with the origami gives it that extra physical feel. The main actions are tapping the screen to walk somewhere, and swiping to authentically change paper structures. The speed at which you swipe reveals how the structures change, and this is actually an essential part to puzzles in Tengami. It just feels right on the GamePad, and more games using the Wii U’s signature controller like this would be very welcome!
I would actually recommend this game to someone who wants to just get away and have a relaxing escape for a few hours. There is a decent amount of challenge in this game, but never to the extent that it seems too difficult. Many puzzles can be fixed by simply focusing on the details of the world, which naturally means exploring the world. Even if this stumps you, a hint system is available to help you through. This game is not about testing the limits of your gaming skill, it is about having a memorable visual and acoustic play session.
It isn’t all plain sailing, unfortunately (sailing? boat picture? no?). One thing that holds Tengami back is the very slow walking pace of your character. While I appreciate the beauty of the visuals, you have no way to speed up the walking pace and this can get tedious if you are walking back and forth several times through empty parts of the game. It sounds like something trivial, but it has a great effect on the game – I always wanted to explore the next part of this stunningly realised world, rather than backtracking.
While the game doesn’t really have a plot, Tengami is based around helping a tree to blossom, and this is done by finding flowers to add to said tree. The game is only a few hours long and can be done in one playthrough – this could be a drawback, but for a £6.99 eShop game that suits being played for a few hours in private? It works. You get the lovely visuals and soundtrack, and you feel satisfied by finishing the game. It is the kind of game you could come back to and replay, either to speed through or collect the 10 hidden Miiverse Stamps.
The price is a big part of Tengami. If this was a £15 game, I might find it hard to suggest people spend that much on a game that takes less than 5 hours to play through. But for £6.99, Tengami is too magical an experience to miss. The touch, audio and visual parts of this game combine to make a very distinct game that, at this price point, is just begging to be played. Go get some headphones.