“A relaxing and accessible and puzzle game which puts no pressure on its players.”
OmoTomo is a delightfully quaint and minimalistic Japanese-style puzzle game, created by the innovative minds at the University of Arts in Zurich and published by Forever Entertainment. Taking place in a simplistic and relaxing zen garden setting, OmoTomo tasks you with guiding two thirsty tree-like creatures towards the goal of reaching the water source located in each level.
A perfect problem-solving game for a pair of players of any gaming skill level, I knew that I had to give OmoTomo a try with my partner as soon as I saw it on the Nintendo Switch store. The game immediately sets itself apart from the vast array of indie title on the Switch store through its slow paced, relaxing and non-punishing nature. These aspects alone make it an ideal game for couples with any amount of gaming experience to enjoy together, whilst simultaneously avoiding the heated temperaments which arise from couch co-op games like Overcooked.
The controls of the game are minimal, with only the directional movements of the analogue sticks being used to solve the majority of the game’s puzzles. Even as the mechanics of the game progress, the first eighty percent of the game challenges your mind but never tests any gaming-specific talents. Progression is stepped smoothly throughout OmoTomo, with new mechanics being introduced periodically at the start of each new run of puzzles. These are very quick and easy to figure out and intuitive to utilise thereafter. At the beginning of the game, each creature can only move in a straight path up, down, left or right around the stage until they reach a barrier. As you move through the game, elements such as stopping points where you can change direction and crossing points which allow the creatures to cross paths are introduced. These are useful in keeping the gameplay model fresh, interesting and challenging.
The final progression step introduces the only major mechanical shake-up to the game, tasking you with placing spaces of your choosing in the stage in order to complete each puzzle. This is where even some experienced gamers might tap out, with awkward feeling controls adding to the huge jump in complexity which besmirches the relaxing and logical style of the preceding levels. The blocks you can place are familiar, as they include each new element that has been introduced in prior parts of the game. Deciding which ones must go where once you have to place more than a couple on a stage, though, can become frustrating and confusing; especially when you get it wrong and have to reset and start again.
Until you reach these final steps of OmoTomo, however, the entire experience is a delight. The look and feel of the game are heavily inspired by Zen gardens in style and emit the same peaceful and intriguing feelings as their inspiration. The creatures themselves are mildly disturbing at first, but the use of happy artworks and gentle, pleasant animations soon transition them to feeling oddly cute and harmless. The audio of the game is peaceful for the most part too, apart from the jarring musical loop which comes from dwelling on a level for too long. Traditional and gentle in nature, the whole game attempts to enshrine you in a focused and relaxed experience, and largely does so successfully.
Despite the small flurry of flaws which it ultimately delivers, OmoTomo feels decisively easy to recommend. For Switch owners who are looking for an enjoyable and relaxing co-op puzzler which offers thinking challenges but without a learning curve, OmoTomo fits the bill perhaps better than any other game on the store. No prior knowledge or gaming experience is required, and no pressure is placed on the players to complete tasks within a time limit or with any given level of skill. You are free to enjoy and engage with each level at your own pace and celebrate your successes in light and pleasant ways. If you would rather play alone, there is an option for that, too; opening up the calming experience of OmoTomo to anyone who simply wants a nice gaming experience. On a rainy weekend or a quiet evening in, OmoTomo could be your new favourite puzzle game.
OmoTomo was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch, you can purchase the game here.
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This game not only provides a relaxing experience with a zen garden environment, but also challenges players with a variety of puzzles, whilst experiencing the growth of the OmoTomO creature. OmoTomO is suited for new and experienced puzzle players, with its steadily rising difficulty.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 8.99