By Shawn Trommeshauser
Disclaimer: Review copy was supplied
Played for over 8 hours
Located 201/244 sources of Earth
Available on Steam for the PC.
Tasomachi: Behind the Twilight is a fairly simple platforming game which is visually gorgeous. You play as Yukumo, a young adventurer who journeys around the world in her airship. Unfortunately it takes some damage and crashes in a region covered in an oppressive fog. She soon meets a Nezu, a little fox-like being (named Kogara) who tells her that all the people have fled. He becomes Yukumo’s guide for the journey ahead, giving the exposition she needs to find her next challenge.
Yukumo’s tasks are to find enough ‘Sources of Earth’ to repair her airship, and to restore the sacred trees that protect the local towns. It also keeps the fog at bay.
There are three types of gameplay: Exploring, airship flight, and restoring the Tree Sanctuaries.
The Tree Sanctuaries are your main goal, and each task consists of a set of platforming challenges. These can range from simple hopping over gaps to bouncing on trampolines to reach blocks. Fortunately for anyone having trouble, you can use coins to bypass the challenges.
There are a few rewards for completing the sanctuaries such as lifting the fog and the Nezu returning–jumping upgrades that help you explore, and find the Sources of Earth. Once these are cleared, Collecting Sources of Earth is the main activity of the game. You will scour the land and sky hunting for these collectables. You can return to the sanctuaries to locate more Sources of Earth, and also talk to the Nezu who will hint at tasks to perform to unlock even more.
The Sources of Earth, much like the Power Moons from Mario Odyssey, are the keys to everything in the game from locked doors to powering your airship. There is very little handholding to show you where to find them outside of signs that show you how many there are to locate in a given area.
These signs are scattered throughout the game and show you in simple ways how many Sources you need to open something, or how many coins you need to buy something in a shop. The only real downsides is that collecting sources and coins becomes very repetative by the end of the game. Once you’ve unlocked an area and completed the Sanctuary, there’s not much left to do in a zone beside taking in the sights and finding more collectables.
The world is gorgeous to look at and the lighting effects makes any time of day a treat to wander around. The Far-East aesthetic is charming and stylized so that it doesn’t require photo realism to make it recognizable. Each town feels like a maze at first, but as you lift the fog of war and gain the ability to climb higher, everything comes together. It’s the closest I’ve felt to walking through the set of a Studio Ghibli film.
The music varies between light and poppy, to menacing and distorted, fitting the mood of whatever areas you are exploring. I found the style shifts didn’t always match well in style, making it feel like some tracks were from a completely different game. But nothing stood out to me as difficult to listen to on loop for a while. And I absolutely love the airship theme. It really brought me back to my times with the original PlayStation in the 90s.
This adventure is definitely not aimed at the ‘hardcore gamer’. Its story is nearly non-existent. The focus is always on offering a mellow platforming experience. There are no enemies to fight or bottomless pits to avoid. If you fall in the water, you just return to the town entrance to keep going.
Yukumo is a silent protagonist with no dialogue of her own, and there is no voice acting for the Nezu or the narrator, making this a very quiet game dependent on music and ambient sound effects for atmosphere.
There are milestones you reach based on the number of Sources of Earth you find, but as far as I’ve seen, the rewards are underwhelming. For example, there was a door that I saw that needed 150 Sources of Earth to open. Once I had the required number I ran back to find the door open, and my reward? One more Source of Earth and a barebones text description of Kogara.
This mellow game is a little shallow and needs more varied tasks (and interactive rewards) to encourage going back to regions once the tasks are complete. I like the world and hope a more fleshed out sequel is in the works.
The game can be finished in about 5 hours. Sadly the ending was very abrupt and left me with more questions than answers. There is still more to find and at least one costume for Yukumo that I missed. I will likely dive back into Tasomachi and see what else I can unlock the next time I just want something light and relaxing to play. The game may be a bit shallow for many, but younger players may find something special here. As for me, I would enjoy a sequel with more emphasis on plot and lore.
3 Stars out of 5