Release Date: November 7th, 2018
Platform: Windows
Developer: OhNoo Studio, Smile
Publisher: OhNoo Studio
Copy provided by publisher

While not a genre I delve into often, I found myself playing a point and click adventure game by name of Tsioque recently. You play as the titular Tsioque exploring her castle after it has been taken over by a dark wizard. Players interact with the environment and use items collected throughout to solve puzzles and progress through the story. As you explore the castle you’ll soon realize that not everything is as it seems which plays into the overarching story. If point and click games are your thing then you could do a lot worse than Tsioque.

The art style of Tsioque is what originally captivated my attention. Despite the dreary setting of a besieged castle, there is an excellent use of colour making all of the environments come alive. Each room is designed in such a way that your eye will be drawn to items of importance. In a game where players spend so much time interacting with their surroundings, having visual cues to silently guide the player is incredibly helpful. Tsioque also has an adorable pout on her face whenever the player tries to solve a puzzle incorrectly as if she is personally offended by their lack of ingenuity. Both the detail put into the environment and characters make the visuals work on a mechanical level while also being charming.

Despite the visuals being charming, this ends up showcasing one of Tsioque’s major flaws: overly long animations. When you’re scouring through every room looking for pieces to the many puzzles around the castle, it can be rather annoying to see the same animations over and over again as you enter or exit a room. There’s no way to skip past these, so you’re stuck watching Tsioque slowly move through each room, which can make exploring unnecessarily tedious.

Even though the animations can make exploration tedious, Tsioque still manages to have a reasonable pace. The game is relatively short, and the well-designed nature of most of the puzzles means players should be able to move along at a brisk pace. As a result, the rooms and puzzles therein are never given a chance to outstay their welcome before the player is shuffled along to another area.

As mentioned, the puzzle design is a big factor in the pacing of Tsioque. Across the entire game, there was only one puzzle that stumped me requiring some external help to solve. Tsioque avoids the pitfall of creating overly obtuse puzzles thanks to two good design decisions. Firstly, all items in your inventory only have a single use, and after they’re used they disappear. Secondly, anytime you need to know information for a puzzle, such as the order for a sequence, you can find said information somewhere within in the game. These two factors eliminate a lot of the guesswork and provide all the pieces that players need within the confines of the game.

Finally, Tsioque has an excellent checkpoint system. The longer animations would have been far more frustrating were it not for the game constantly creating checkpoints midway through events and puzzles. This prevents the player from having to replay sections they’ve already seen or solved continuously if they make mistakes. Given the frequency I would blunder things up, I was especially appreciative of the checkpoints, which saved the game from becoming too tedious.

Tsioque didn’t set my world on fire, but it’s an adorable game and pleasant way to spend a few hours. The visuals are used to great effect and are nice to look at, which helps to make the entire experience pleasant. The real star is the design for the puzzles and checkpoints, both of which make for a fair and enjoyable experience even if mistakes happen. While the animations dragged out exploration, the other elements worked well together to create an enjoyable point and click game that is worth checking out if you’re into the genre.