Some games are just that, others have a story, and then there are those where the game IS the story. Tsioque is a funny, hand-drawn adventure developed by OhNoo Studio in collaboration with studio Smile after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Filled with puzzles, jokes, slapstick, and charismatic animations, Tsioque is a heartwarming Point-and-Click game that can be appreciated by anyone with a love for cartoons.
For those not familiar with the Point-and-Click genre: in these games to advance through the story the player must use the mouse to click on the places she or he wants to visit, the objects he or she wants to interact with and use the right tools collected along the way to solve and overcome the enemies and problems found throughout Tsioque’s journey to freedom.
Tsioque is available for purchase on Steam and a Demo can also be downloaded on its page.
When her mother, the queen, leaves the castle to do her job fighting an evil Phoenix that is threatening the land, the young princess Tsioque is locked as a prisoner in her own castle by an Evil Wizard who has taken the opportunity to seize it with his army of dark creatures. Now Tsioque must escape and elude the forces which try to silence her while looking for a way to undo the magic that has warped her home.
We are introduced to the story of Tsioque by an animated narration written in jolly rhymes through which we learn of the queen, and of how Tsioque ends up locked in the dungeons of her own castle; it is at this point where we join the young princess in her adventure. The first thing we must do is help her escape from prison using nothing more than our mouse and her medallion, once this is accomplished we guide Tsioque through the crypts, over the walls and into the main courtyard of the castle, all the while eluding the guards and watchful eye of the Evil Wizard.
It is from this point on that Tsioque's journey gets complicated -being careful not to spoil its story- the trials she faces put her through magical dangers she must overcome with the use of her wits, our mouses, and the objects she has the foresight to hold on to. Once she reaches the tower of the Evil Wizard in order to recover an important item stolen from her, things take a twist as the identity of the Wizard is revealed! After this, Tsioque is able to recover her belongings and, in the ensuing struggle, shatter the magic that affects the castle.
The wild magic breaks and transforms the castle and its inhabitants, causing chaos as well as creating more dangerous foes that the young princess must navigate or elude in order to finally escape her home in search of the only one able to restore the balance: her mother, the Queen. However, the scarred Evil Wizard will not sit idle, now with his attention away from his work and focused on Tsioque, the protagonist must race to the door and -with the help of her pet allies- finally reach the doorknob that separates her from freedom.
Graphics and Audio
One of Tsioque’s main attraction is the fact that it was drawn by hand, a style aimed at achieving a distinct ambient and transmitting a specific feeling. This type of animation sprung into the public eye last year with the furor caused by Cuphead from Studio MDHR, and it has the ability to transmit both a sensation of child-like innocence and infinite possibilities. In the tradition of classic cartoons, we get diabolic minions who always scowl, wide-eyed animals filled with innocence, and a magical princess with a perpetual…frown. That's right, our hero takes no nonsense from her enemies and while she progresses through the story with lots of emotions appropriate for her circumstances, it is anger at her situation what keeps her determination high. Which is good, because I am not a fan of her smile.
Regardless, the developers have drawn with dedication every centimeter of the screen, and they make sure players must make use of the whole screen instead of just what is in the center. Following this idea, the game allows us to interact with its world not only when we figure out the puzzle, but rather there are quite a bit of funny interactions such as when picking up a weapon far too big for Tsioque it will inevitably get out of her control and fall to the ground, alerting the guards and thus forcing a redo on our part. However, some interactions Tsioque will just tell us she won't do, which is a real bummer.
It is quite an achievement how Tsioque’s soundtrack fits in every scene. The composers have managed to create a different ambiance for each step along young princess Tsioque’s journey. Every room has a different sound that gives it it's own unique feeling, varying from the wondrousness of a fairy tale, to the soft, warm comfort of a familiar room which reminds the protagonist of her mother, to the danger of an evil wizard who demands silence while he works in his designs.
The music sometimes reminds me of the Kokiri Forest tune from The Legend of Zelda in its ability to capture a sensation of haunting yet adventurous music. Just as well as the music, the production of the arrows shot, the weapons dropped, and the waves of the magic wand also have nice sounds to accompany them that add a feeling of truth to every action. There are some small details that can bother the player, such a small pause every time a page is turned in the narration sections and quite a stretch in pronunciation for one of the rhymes, but overall the musical themes of this game are quite solid.
I am amazed by how well-crafted as a game is Tsioque, especially since the developers worked with a relatively small team of animators and programmers to bring this project to life. As someone who has been playing video games for the last 20 years, and someone who cares about the medium and its community: I am glad not only that games like Tsioque exist nowadays but also that I have played it, and that I can get this small opportunity to recommend that you play it.
This game is an intriguing story that builds up our interest as we try to decipher just why things don't seem to "add up", eventually reaching a climactic confrontation with the Evil Wizard that twists everything we thought we knew; teasing our curiosity and rewarding our sense of cunning with clues that keep us asking "I had figured this out, but just how far does it go?" until we eventually discover how this game about a princess fighting evil its truly, at its core, a heartwarming tale about family. About a dream.
|+ Good mix of story themes and gameplay||– Animations can't be skipped|
|+ Fun puzzles that require lateral thought||– Areas aren't interconnected|
|+ Clever use of minigames to change the pace of the story|