Tsioque by OhNoo Studio, Smile
When I first saw this game I was enamored with its hand-drawn animation. It was a game that I was looking forward to because it reminded me a lot of Dragon’s Lair and the Disney movies I grew up with. It’s that classic animation that’s increasingly becoming lost as more and more people favor 3D animation. But after playing TSIOQUE by OhNoo Studio, I definitely don’t want this style of animation to go away.
Animation, Sound and Fury
Every animation for the various characters in this game is bursting with personality and charm; each is physically expressive thanks to idle animations and obvious attention to detail. The main protagonist – Tsioque – has a fitting constantly-annoyed expression on her face. The main villain is equally menacing and cool to look at. Even environments allow for some character interaction. The game’s art style does so much to make the world come alive.
Another aspect of the game that helps its overall stylistic cohesion is its fantastic music. The game uses music as more of a tool instead of something to stuff into the background. There is ambient music in this game, but music will also dynamically match character movements and animations. It felt very much like how older cartoons would do the same thing to make the action more exciting or give it more impact. The fantastic use of the music not only helps the moment-to-moment gameplay but also gives the game more whimsy.
Its whimsical tone is mirrored by the game’s fairy tale plot that involves an evil wizard’s nefarious plans to rule over all. He summons minions to take over the castle, which leads to princess Tsioque’s capture.
Once Again Upon a Time
The goal is to stop this evil wizard from completing his plan while avoiding – or outsmarting – his minions. It’s a standard plot, some would say too cliché. But – without spoiling anything the plot – it is this way for a reason.
Overall I felt the plot took a back seat to the game’s art style and presentation, but it was still entertaining enough to keep me looking forward to what would happen next.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s your standard point-and-click affair: the game is not littered with useless items, meaning that every item you pick up has a purpose. It’s also relatively easy to acquire the items you need, as they are not overtly hidden. The game features only a handful of puzzles, as well as some sequences that require good timing. In one example, I had to run down a stairwell and click on icons on screen to the beat of the music to avoid a minion’s sword swings.
These sections do a good job of mixing up the general gameplay of finding items and using said items to move the plot forward. Most of the game feels relatively easy, even with the more twitch-reliant sequences, but there are some puzzles that require a bit more thought.
Unfortunately, the game feels a little too short, clocking in at a little under three hours. At one point in the last 30 minutes of the game, the narrative takes an abrupt turn. The flow thus felt off to me and perhaps the developers ran out of time to expand the game further. This style of hand-drawn animation must be extremely time-consuming, so I understand the game’s short length.
Regardless, the game’s abrupt end at least made sense within the context of the narrative, so I didn’t have an issue with it, but it could be an issue for those who don’t like the narrative shift, which will undoubtedly be divisive.
TSIOQUE feels like a labor of love that is oozing with style. Although its narrative was sufficient, I felt like it was lacking in depth that could make it into a more memorable experience. It’s still very entertaining for those who are fans of 2D animation and Saturday morning cartoons, not to mention that Don Bluth-style classic fairy tale aesthetic. If you don’t mind a point-and-click with more style over substance, I’d say without hesitation to give this game a shot.
TSIOQUE is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for TSIOQUE below: