The Touryst (Switch) Review
Who would say no to a vacation? A chance to kick back, relax and enjoy the sights. It’s not hard to be a tourist, but it takes something more to be a Touryst. What’s that you say? That’s not even a word! How can I be a Touryst, THE Touryst? It’s fortunately not that hard,
A boat pulls up to the island. You are the Touryst, or just plain tourist. Moustached and bedecked in the finest holiday wear and ready to solve puzzles, play arcade games and uncover the mystery of the monuments. It might not be the usual vacation, but you get to enjoy the sand between your toes across several islands and have the adventure of a lifetime. There isn’t much in the way of a story besides finding the monument cores. You’ll find enough to keep you busy by completing side quests which in turn allow you to travel to new locations.
The Touryst is part puzzle, part adventure and all vacation, wrapped up in a charming blocky voxel package. Beginning at Touryst Island, your adventure starts with uncovering a mystery within a large monument. You come across a mysterious old man who wants you to help find the cores/power source from other monuments dotted around the islands. The quest for the monument cores involves finding the islands where they reside through travel guides which are bought throughout the journey. To get enough money for these you’re going to have to be a good guy, helping people by doing odd jobs along the way. This can involve helping play the drums for some dancers on Fijy, kicking a soccer ball around on Ybiza or finding some records for the hapless DJ who’s been playing the same song over and over again. Some jobs require travelling to multiple islands, especially anything that involves wearing the right clothing. Some jobs can be done on the spot. The Touryst makes it easy to like as it always feels like you’re doing something different across these small islands. You never feel like you’re just repeating a bunch of chores, there’s usually more than one thing to do at any given time should you want a break from the monument puzzles.
Should you ever need a break from the island life, you can get away to the arcade. Here there are ‘demakes’ of Shin’en games like ‘Fast’ and ‘Nano Break’. Fast turns Fast RMX into old F-Zero, which felt more fun than playing the original F-Zero every did. Nano Break is a fun take on games like Breakout, having more areas to play through then I expected. The game has you aiming to beat the highest score for a task, but the games happen to be fun on their own.
Overall my time being a Touryst was a joy, there were only a few times the trip hit a snag. One monument guardian brought the game to a halt when it was unclear what I needed to do to defeat it. There were several moving parts and it was the one time in the game where I felt like I might not be able to move forward. It was so frustrating. Coming out of the other side it was a relief that it can be beaten, although it left me with a lingering concern there would be more moments like this. Thankfully it wasn’t the case, any other missteps were related to rooms that require jumping and were manageable. One late-game room caused some very unbecoming and un-vacationlike swearing. While there were a few frustrating moments it is far outweighed by the good.
Developers Shin’en has made another lovely looking game. They really seem to be able to make the Switch sing. The voxel cube aesthetic works better than could be expected. It’s not the first game to embrace it, but it is definitely one of the best. When it was advertised as 60fps at 1080p they weren’t kidding, through the whole six hours, I can’t think of a moment where the game ran anything other than smooth. Things can get blurry when you’re out of the area of focus but it looks like it’s meant to be that way, even when you know it is what most likely allows the game to run as well as it does. It looks great on the handheld and even better when Docked. The islands all manage to be lush colourful environments that look representative of the real-life locations they’re based on.
Between Fast RMX and The Touryst, Shin’en has really gotten some great performances out of the Switch. I imagine there’s going to be a lot of people thinking about what a game like Link’s Awakening could’ve turned out like with this small team involved. If you want a nice relaxing puzzle game where you can just soak in the visuals The Touryst is a great game for it. Minor quibbles aside there is plenty to enjoy over the five-hour trip. Shin’en has made a game that looks amazing while always giving you something new to do. This is a vacation worth taking.
+ A visual treat that makes you long for a vacation
+ A good variety of mini-games and puzzles to make the five hours a delight
+ The ‘retro’ arcade games are more fun then they have any right being
- A few frustrating jumping puzzles
- Travelling to the shirt shop can get tiring