Tengami is an adventure game set in an intricately designed pop-up book version of ancient Japan. While that might make it sound like a game for kids, it’s not. You walk the around gorgeously textured monochromatic landscapes, looking for environmental puzzles to solve to progress. As you play, you turn “pages” with your finger to collapse the current environment and unfold the next one. It’s pretty cool.
There’s virtually no story to the game, so much of the appeal rests on the other factors, like graphics and puzzles. Thankfully, the visuals and sounds are incredibly evocative, creating an atmosphere of striking beauty. One reason I wanted to keep playing the game was to keep looking at it.
But any adventure game hinges largely on its puzzles, and in Tengami they’re a mixed bag. Some puzzles involve folding parts of the environment to create a pathway to your objective. Others are the more standard, and involve finding an item that you insert into a slot to unlock your way. Others ones are symbol-based and trickier. I particularly enjoyed the paper-folding puzzles, and wish there had been more of them. The pop-up book aspect is what really makes Tengami stand out, so it should have been used in more puzzles.
Most of the puzzles are enjoyable, but some require you to explore great swaths of terrain– which would be fine if your character walked faster than a sloth. (He doesn’t). When you have to cross several screen lengths, waiting for your character to get there can feel excruciating. He walks slowly enough that it discourages exploration, which is a shame because the world is so beautiful that you’ll want to explore it.
Despite these complaints, Tengami is a beautiful game that’s worth a look for anyone who enjoys puzzles and great-looking adventure games. It has a few kinks to work out before it’s a Must Have, but it’s still a satisfactory experience.