Review – Toby: The Secret Mine

I’ve recently played Limbo for the first time and finally found out why everyone and their mother praise that game like one of the main pillars of indie gaming’s history. You know the drill: if you come up with a successful game, lots of games inspired by your work will follow suit. Enter Toby: The Secret Mine, a game originally released for pretty much every other console from this generation, Wii U included. Just like the recently reviewed Iconoclasts, Toby is the spawn of a single developer, Lukáš Navrátil. I can’t help but admire people that come up with entire games on their own, but sadly, Toby: The Secret Mine isn’t as good as this other example, even though it’s still fairly enjoyable in its own right.


The goth version of the Little Shop of Horrors

As expected, Toby: The Secret Mine is a 2D puzzle-platformer with a heavy emphasis on solving small physics-based obstacles and non-verbal storytelling. Unlike Limbo, however, Toby doesn’t try to be Hot Topic levels of grim and grey. Despite making heavy use of shadows and somber imagery, Toby is actually a very bright and colorful game. Without a doubt, the visuals are the game’s main selling point. Mixing cute but grim characters with (occasionally) sunny environments is pleasing for anyone’s eyes.

Those visuals can be quite deceiving, however. One of Toby‘s main issues also lies on the graphics; as you progress through the game, you’ll notice lots of shadowy platforms, scaffoldings and dead ends scattered throughout the levels. Sadly, the game doesn’t let you know which ones are traversable and which ones aren’t. It’s all up to you to bump into every one of these (occasionally not) obstacles and find out if they’re tangible or if they’re actually part of the background.


Calm down with the edge factor

That also leads to another issue with the game: the gameplay itself. Don’t get me wrong, Toby: The Secret Mine‘s controls aren’t bad. They’re actually very responsive, as a game like this should be. The problem lies in the game’s puzzles, or lack thereof. They’re just too simplistic and offer little to no challenge. There are a few good puzzles here and there, and the game tries to promote replayability by making you rescue a few dozen caged friends hidden throughout the stages, but the overall level design and gameplay isn’t very exciting. At the end of the day, Toby feels like a thrift shop version of Limbo.


Those lighting effects are pretty

If you treat Toby: The Secret Mine as a little appetizer to saciate your Limbo-loving needs instead of a brand new big contender on the genre, you’ll most likely end up liking this game. It’s stupidly short and nowhere near as exciting as its source of inspiration, since it suffers from subpar level designs and an overall lack of “oomph,” but it’s a cheap and inoffensive pastime while you’re on a small flight or waiting for a movie to begin. At the very least, it’s quite good looking!

Graphics: 7.5

The art style resembles Limbo and it’s absolutely gorgeous, but its excessive use of pitch black shadows hinders the overall level design, as you never know what you can or cannot step on.

Gameplay: 7.0

A very simple and somewhat responsive physics-based 2D platformer control scheme which is hindered by the game’s faulty level design.

Sound: 5.5

Sound effects and soundtrack aren’t anything special. You can pretty much ignore their existence while playing the game.

Fun Factor: 6.0

A few good puzzles here and there (a lot of bad ones as well), a handful of well-hidden collectibles to promote replayability, but at the end of the day the game suffers from being an inferior version of Limbo.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Reviewed on Switch.
Toby: The Secret Mine is also available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Wii U.

A copy of Toby: The Secret Mine was provided by the publisher.