Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found is a pretty interesting game. It is a competent game that borrows a lot of its ideas from Rogue Legacy but makes them more of a casual experience. This may be the first game that has me completely torn between highly recommending it or condemning it to the lost and found.
It begins with a family and a new house. In a beautifully drawn opening the unknown family are seen packing their car and moving to a huge creepy house in the middle of nowhere. A child is playing with toys and is then put to bed, and so the first night begins. Our hero of the story, Brand, is an action figure who wakes up in a bedroom with his owner missing. In classic video game storytelling fashion he doesn’t remember what happened, so sets out to find the truth with the help of a friendly firefly. The story unfolds through playing quests but some of the more interesting story elements come from diary entries found around the house while exploring. You get to hear the tragic tale of the previous family living in the house. The themes are great and very interesting but they quickly lose their impact because of certain story elements.
Toy Odyssey is that ever popular genre of the roguelike and it seems that you can’t review a game these days which doesn’t contain roguelike elements. The roguelike elements come from the player going out each night and exploring a randomly generated layout for the house. One night you may venture out and find that the living room is right next door to the starting area, the next night the bathroom could be next to the starting area. It is cool in practice but it doesn’t make a big impact on the overall game. This comes down to the fact that each room is aesthetically different but doesn’t change the gameplay at all. You see, Toy Odyssey spawns a system of platforms around its rooms. This means that no matter what room you are in you will still be climbing the same kind of platforms with the same kind of layouts. While this is fun for a while, the whole premise loses its appeal quickly. The game also has falling damage and most of the time it feels unavoidable with odd and awkward random platform placement. It really puts a damper on the opening hours of the game.
Enemies are a big factor in keeping the gameplay of any roguelike fresh throughout. Rogue Legacy solves this by upgrading its enemies visually and mechanically each time. Unlike a comparable roguelike - Enter the Gungeon, which has a whole host of different enemies on each floor - in Toy Odyssey you are going to see the same enemies over and over again. The ninja, the rat, the commando and many others show up again and again. It gets very repetitive very quickly but the game does try to mix this up. Each enemy has a different glow such as red, green or blue, and each colour grants them something different such as more health, fast attack and so on. The problem is that the colours are really hard to see in conjunction with the game's other mechanics.
In a great move by the developers, the house is very dark. Each room you go into is pitch black and you only have the light of your firefly to help see in a small area around Brand. It does make traveling around even more of a challenge but it adds to the creepy atmosphere. To fix the lighting problem you will need to switch on the light in each room. This can be done in one of two ways. First by finding the light switch in each room, usually located next to that room’s entrance or exit door, or by locating a powerbox. A powerbox lights up a whole section of the house to greatly helps with navigation by allowing you to see what rooms and paths you can use to get through the house.
The game relies on a main quest line and lots of side quests from the many characters you find and rescue while out adventuring. This is a tried and true method of progressing the story but Toy Odyssey doesn’t seem to grasp how this should work. Because the game is a roguelike that means you are going to run into lots of random instances. One main quest asks you to find and kill forty different enemy types as part of the opening ten quests. You will die a lot trying to find just these forty different enemies and it seems like a final mission but the game keeps going after that. It even has the audacity to ask you to find several rare items at one point. The quests are all over the place with some completable almost instantly, and others going on for just far too long.
Crafting and random junk are a very important factor within the game. While exploring you will collect the game's currency in the form of bolts. Bolts help you upgrade Brand and the base while also using random junk. You will also come across random junk that can be used to craft weapons, gadgets and base upgrades. To begin with, the massive amount of weapon upgrades are cut off as you have to find blueprints, but soon enough you will be experimenting with a whole host of primary and secondary weapons. Upgrading your base is vital as well, since with each passing night your base has a chance of being raided. Raiders take your junk which is a real pain when you are trying to build that last defence or upgrade your workbench. However, this quickly stops being an issue as you can upgrade your base pretty easily and raids then stop all together.
Toy Odyssey suffers from an absolutely horrible opening with you getting used to certain mechanics in a very restricted and annoying environment; falling damage is a really big problem in the opening hours. Then it starts to pick up as you start to uncover the story of the families that have lived in the house and their stories. Yet, when you think it’d be an idea time to wrap up the story, it just keeps dragging on and on. Quests ask you to do far too much that relies on the random elements of a roguelike, it has random boss battles that then suddenly go away halfway through the game, and some side quests just instantly complete themselves because your have filled the criteria already. It all feels badly paced with some great ideas and a lot of content. Its primary gameplay loop of finding junk and upgrading Brand, the weapons and the base is a lot of fun. But it is often marred by the sheer annoyance of just everything else, the enemies, the pathing of the rooms and platform, and the early raids. If you liked Rogue Legacy but wanted something a little more casual then give Toy Odyssey a shot. This really is a game that has me sitting on a fence and not wanting to pick a side.