Release date: 2021
Version played: PlayStation 5 in 2022
Developed and published by Something We Made, TOEM: A Photo Adventure is an adventure photography game released in 2021, with the goal of witnessing something called “Toem”. And to observe this phenomenon, players travels through various hubs in differing biomes (forests, cities, or mountain areas) and takes photos of the fauna while fulfilling photography requests. These are not always requests for something in the same hub, let alone the same biome, and as such the player character keeps track of requests on a community card, which can be stamped upon quest completion.
+ adorable hand drawn graphics. I don’t even know what the player character is meant to be (but certainly not human; maybe a sheep?) but they are just so darn cute, and can be equipped in various hats/outfits, some of which have a gameplay function and some of which are just ultra stylish. The various pet critters and other sentient inhabitants are all unique and full of personality
+ an incredibly smooth and soothing soundtrack fills the background, and each song that plays is ‘unlocked’ to be played on an in game audio player if one song in particular catches your ear. The other audio is just as well done, with the ambient background noise and animal reactions all feeling immersive
+ the quests themselves are relatively simple, most all taking the form of photographing something in your surroundings, but finding specifically what is requested can sometimes be challenging. Only one ‘puzzle’ left me completely stumped, and I only got the answer by getting a bit lucky
+ the PS5 controller is a thing of beauty and magic. The R2 trigger, used to take photos, has that slow press into a click thing going on that is so satisfying, and has to be felt to be appreciated (this is not unique to this game, but TOEM is just another example of how wonderful the Dualsense is)
Should you play this game: I loved this game so much. There is no combat, no time limits, no resource management (though there is an upper limit of how many photos you can have stored, but I never came close from start to finish) – this is just a relaxing game full of adorable sights and sounds. It was free on PS Plus, so you really have no excuse not to play this.