Indie roundup: TOEM, Glo & A Day Without Me

We are taking a look at three brand new releases from the indie scene, as we look at TOEM on the PS5, Eastasiasoft’s console port of GLO and A Day Without Me for PlayStation 4.

TOEM review (PS5)

With the release of Chicory and now TOEM, it feels like the indie scene is really embracing the black and white aesthetic in 2021. And like Chicory, TOEM feels like a fresh new approach, although this particular one is much shorter in length than Finji’s game, condensing its joys into a smaller package.

TOEM was developed by Something We Made, and features a game world full of endearing characters as you traverse a campaign where the core mechanic is, oddly enough, taking photographs. There’s a main objective where you try to uncover the mystery of TOEM by heading towards a mountaintop, but really it’s the journey that matters here.

toem2

Traveling from location to location, you’ll be confronted with small puzzles and other tasks you need to complete in order to earn enough to gain access to the next place by way of a simple bus ticket. TOEM’s art style stands out when you do all this, because the game is completely devoid of color yet is full of charming little details in its locations and characters. You’ll meet and help many of them with the aid of your camera, but (partly thanks to new abilities that your camera gains) this keeps happening in new and creative ways rather than relying on a single mechanic.

While the main gameplay is presented to the player with an isometric view, you’ll switch to a first person perspective whenever it’s time to take pictures – or when you’re on the lookout for some of the game’s secrets that are hidden in the environment. And all this happens at a nice and relaxed pace, because although there’s a higher goal to get to you’re never pressured to keep things moving and can just take in the chilled out music and attractive hand-drawn visuals. It’s a short game, but a great way to unwind at the start of the weekend.

GLO review (PS4)

With its cube-filled design, GLO initially looks like every other typical challenging indie platformer, but there’s a twist. Originally developed by Chronik Spartan and now brought to consoles by Eastasiasoft, GLO brings new meaning to the term “hidden gem”.

glo

At its core, GLO is a challenging platformer with 100 small levels where you have to make your way to the exit to progress. The catch, however, is that most of the level is obscured by darkness, so enemies, disappearing blocks and other obstacles aren’t your only concern here. Memorization becomes a big part of the challenge, as does experimentation – your next move is very likely to be a literal jump into darkness.

Luckily, you’re a source of light yourself with your little cube protagonist, and so is the exit. You can also trigger and launch illuminated projectiles that give you a quick glance at (parts of) the level layout, but other than that the world is shrouded in darkness and yours to get through. As you do, you’ll also notice texts on the walls – which slowly unfold a story-driven narrative to you. With its shapes and story bits there’s a little “Thomas Was Alone” vibe to it, although without voiceovers the experience is less immersive here.

glo2

Controls can feel a tad floaty at times, but are far from your worst enemy here. Those interested in trophies don’t have to be afraid of the dark though, as GLO only requires you to tackle the first 20 levels in order to get them all. In fact, the only trophies I was missing at that point were for dying a certain number of times, which tells you enough about how manageable it is. But for something familiar yet a little different, this is a nice indie platformer where it’s worth pushing on beyond those trophies.

A Day Without Me review (PS4)

Originally released on Steam in 2020, A Day Without Me was launched for consoles through the work of publisher ChiliDog Interactive. An indie game with a very interesting premise, we decided to check it out with a closer look.

a day without me

In A Day Without Me, you wake up to find yourself the only person left in your entire town. What happened here? Do you hide in your house to stay safe, or explore to find out what’s going on? There’s an occult symbol in your living room somehow, so at least that can be seen as a pretty good clue that things aren’t quite as they’re supposed to be. It’s an unsettling narrative premise, and the game does a good job at running with it for the duration of the story – showing you things like random spots of blood and mysteriously abandoned cars that look like they recently crashed.

It’s an intriguing atmosphere, but unfortunately it’s one the game never fully capitalizes on through its narrative delivery. I get the enigmatic nature of the core premise, but story elements are so sparse that you end up wondering why you just did what you did – beyond the on-screen objective telling you to do so. As a result there’s little in terms of world building beyond what you see, and your main character never really feels fully fleshed out either.

a day without me2

Progress is made by completing the game’s small puzzles, many of which fit well with the ominous theme of the game. There are also a few chase scenes, and the game generally feels like it does a good job at keeping you moving forward. You’ll also encounter some interesting tidbits that are based in Indonesian folklore (the game was developed there), so although there’s some missed potential in the narrative there’s enough here to keep you going. At its budget price point, it’s certainly worth a look.

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