I can’t remember the last time a graphical effect made me double-take. But the light of the setting sun filtering through the palm trees on Ybiza did exactly that. The characters and scenery are pleasantly chunky, but belie what I assume is significant technical whizz-bangery to make it all pop in quite the style that it does.
Like Ybiza, most of the islands you explore in The Touryst are tropical idylls, based on obvious real-world locations. Plus Soggy Island, with rain more beautiful even than you’d see in good old Blighty.
The islands are home to monuments, which you want to get in amongst for little more reason than an old guy asked you to. These are essentially mini-dungeons, which tend to riff nicely on a small set of ideas – unique to the monument – introducing them individually before bringing them together. It’s not a big game, but the lack of recycling between monuments keeps it taut – and a lot of games could learn something from the lack of filler.
Like the narrative, little is explained in the monuments. But with the few abilities you have, some clever environmental clues, and a general lack of peril, it’s usually possible to satisfyingly figure out what the game wants you to do. Usually. I did flail around wildly for extended periods a couple of times, but it’s not a game to rush through – it wants you to inhabit its world, and sets the pace accordingly.
To that end, there are countless diversions scattered around the islands. NPCs provide numerous side quests, from straightforward fetch-quests and photographic challenges, to remarkably well-executed mini-games: a fully playable arcade, surfing, a bit of rhythm action.
They’re not all successful though: the motion-controlled football challenge is one of the most frustrating things I’ve played this year.
The intentionally vague narrative that ties it all together provides intrigue throughout but fails to provide any sort of satisfying ending. That’s soon forgotten though: the journey is what counts, and with a generosity of ideas, The Touryst is an eclectic, charming – even relaxing – way to spend half a dozen hours.