'Toem' review: A laid-back adventure in a dense black-and-white world

The indie game gives you some running shoes and a camera and asks what wonders you can capture

Sajid Khan
Published : 27 Jan 2023, 01:45 PM
Updated : 27 Jan 2023, 01:45 PM

Imagine you’re a young, enthusiastic adventurer whose mother sends you out into the world equipped with a pair of running shoes. No, this isn’t Pokemon. For your adventure, you wear a pair of clogs and are given a handy, retro camera instead of a Pokeball. In this black-and-white world, you have only one mission - to capture the picture of a spectacular phenomenon called ‘Toem’ - a super rare sight that can barely be seen from the highest peak of the tallest mountain.

As the perfect photo takes time to capture the right moment, Toem takes a bit of time for the player to unravel its complete and fascinating story but is very worth it.

Over the course of the hunt for the Toem, the player travels across a number of beautiful Scandinavian towns and cities filled with imaginative and unique residents. Artist Lucas Gullbo’s style manages to create characters that look adorable but can also seem grand and imposing, such as the photogenic skeleton or the DJ in the middle of the woods. The gameplay follows the player character solving small, unique puzzles given to them by the locals through the act of photography as they travel through dense forests, a sunny beach town, a crowded city, and snowy mountains. 

Swedish developer Something We Made strikes a neat balance in Toem between clever puzzles that challenge the player to change their perspective on the game or with their camera while not making things too obscure and frustrating to grind down the pace. There’s a ton of fun detail and captivating lore in the nooks and crannies of this world, wonderful customizable collectable player outfits and camera upgrades, all of which encourage exploration. The snazzy background music composed by Jamal Green and Launchable Socks keeps things bright and peppy. 

The quests players undertake also involve taking pictures of missing items or challenges to complete full photo sets. Some quests can take place over multiple areas, such as one about an investigator searching for a shady character, or helping ghosts too tired to finish their chores. Most of the photos you take are stored in an album that you can customise and refer back to at any time during your adventure. 

The dialogue is witty, with an occasional life lesson that you can ponder even after the closing credits. The simple controls, the dynamic world, and the charming characters bring to mind The Short Hike, another lovely award-winning indie adventure.  

It’s a small, simple game short enough to complete on a day off. But the little trip to find Toem is a cosy and relaxing adventure that pays off in a satisfying way. 

  • Score – 7.5/10 

  • Title: Toem

  • Year of Release: 2021

  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5

  • Time to beat: 3.5 - 4 hours

This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.