Bold statements, I know. As someone who holds the Nintendo Switch in VERY high regard, and who has a pretty respectable (or insane) library on the console too, I am well aware of the frankly ridiculous amount of quality games that have been released for the wonderful little machine. That all being said, I stand by it. Shin’en Multimedia (devs of Fast RMX, Art of Balance, etc.) are already a well-respected outfit in modern gaming, but they’ve truly outdone themselves this time. Their recent eShop release, The Touryst, is a sterling example of what it means to experience the joy of video games as an art form and it is one of the most happiness-inducing games in recent memory.
Instead of reviewing it, cause there are already plenty of those, I’m going to share a little insight with you as to WHY I think it’s such an amazing game, and why YOU need to finish this article and go buy it immediately. I’d apologize to your wallet but let’s be honest- from now til the “After Christmas Sales” stop mid-January you’re gonna be broke anyway. This $20 won’t be the final nail in your coffin, I promise.
Your wallet might hate me, but your heart will thank me.
Let’s get the explaining out of the way real quick- The Touryst is a 3D, voxel-based, exploration/puzzle/platformer (it might be a new genre entirely, honestly) where you are dropped off on an island and told that there are secrets to uncover about monuments that are strewn about the world. You are given very little instruction and you set about exploring instantly. There are secrets to uncover, new islands to unlock, and a metric TON of fun stuff to discover as you go along. It’s not the longest game, but it’s not the shortest either. I’m getting close to finishing it and I’m sad, because it is SUCH a wonderful experience. Id gladly play 100+ more hours of it and I’ll be jumping right back in when I’m done too by the way. It is gorgeous, it runs PERFECTLY handheld or docked, and it is some of the most high-quality game development I’ve ever witnessed. There’s even an arcade in the game where you can play FULL-FLEDGED retro arcade versions of Shin’en games. Yeah, it’s as amazing as it sounds.
For those of you that haven’t played it yet, or if the algorithms allow this to be your first exposure to the game somehow, that’s all I’m gonna say about the game directly. There are plenty of videos and reviews out there already but I don’t want to give away any more than necessary. The joy of this game is watching it unfold before you, so no spoilers here.
I remember the SUPER ugly 1970’s carpet out of everything, that’s probably best.
I got my first video game console when I was 7 or 8. I never remember it exactly, but it was definitely one of those. It was the original Game Boy, and it was awesome. Christmas 1987 (or 1988), in Decatur, Illinois. I was a quiet, smart, bullied little dude who didn’t have a lot of friends and who didn’t have a father around either. A lot of my world was my imagination, books, Nicktoons (Doug for LIFE!), and riding my bike around looking at clouds. Its true, it wasn’t enough for me to be the shy kid getting pushed around at school, I had to be a fucking weather nerd too. It was the Midwest so stuff like tornadoes and wall clouds really got me jazzed, and I’d ride around like a Weather Channel correspondent looking at cloud patterns, waiting for that “we’re going green!” moment those guys from Twister dreamed of on a nightly basis.
Yeah, I just quoted Twister. You’re welcome.
It would be over a decade before this shy and nerdy little dude would get the hell outta dodge and make his way to Atlanta, but for Christmas 1987 (or 1988) I was firmly entrenched in another Midwest winter and I had one thing on my mind. A Game Boy.
Remember those days? When waiting for Christmas morning was a months-long exercise in patience? Wondering if you’d be lucky and get whatever it was that you asked for, waiting for that final moment when you’d get to decimate your mother’s meticulous wrapping job and meet your bounty. It was great stuff and I still love Christmas that way, and I hope we can instill that in our kids too. Anyway, this year I got my Game Boy, a small stack of games, and it was everything I could have wished for. Awesome.
Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.
Alright, alright- I’ll get to the fucking point. Here’s what I’m rambling towards- in this modern age of gaming things have become SO advanced, and attention spans have become SO short, that most of us barely remember the games we played last WEEK, let alone what we played a few ears ago. The classics though? Those are the ones you don’t easily forget. I can even remember what the carpet looked like in our family room that Christmas Eve when I was holding my Game Boy for the first time, and it’s probably best that I don’t remember TOO much else if I’m being honest.
That Christmas, and getting my Game Boy, is etched into my memory like an engraving on a monument. The joy that damn little battery-drainer brought me is incalculable, and that says a lot considering it was a TWO COLOR device that wasn’t even backlit. Even better than the console itself were the games, oh the games! My favorites were usually the weird ones, one that always jumps out at me is Boomer’s Adventure in Asmik World. It was an adventure/puzzle kind of thing and it was super weird. For some reason, I was really good at it and that led me to all the other weird/slightly different games on offer at the time. I devoured them because they were a JOY. Opening the box, reading the manual, and popping the cartridge in for the first time- the ritual of it all- it was exciting, and yet another feeling that today’s generation won’t even get a chance to fully understand. That makes me sad.
The Touryst is more than just a game, it’s a time machine.
It makes me sad because that feeling of pure and unadulterated joy is shockingly hard to come by for ANYONE these days. Content is churned out faster than any human can consume it, everything is monetized, and our entire lives play out in a self-defeating digital irrelevance that can be soul-sucking to even the more pure of heart among us. When I DO find something that gives me that pure joy feeling I want to stand on top of a very tall building and exclaim it to the world.
The Touryst is one of those things, and The Ghost Generation is my very tall building.
The Touryst is more than just a game, it’s a time machine. It’s a time machine that takes you back to that unbridled happiness you got from video games when you were a kid, but it also takes bold steps towards the future, showing us what can be done when games are DESIGNED for happiness instead of being little more than a funnel to the next lootbox. The Touryst is excellent because it DOESN’T have 300 hours of useless side quests, 76 characters to master, or 43 branching storylines to keep track of. Those are all fine if that’s your bag, but a lot of us (looking at you Switch folks) are married, with kids, and jobs, and something that we can enjoy and finish within a couple days is fantastic. I have plenty of long games I’m involved in at the moment, but The Touryst is so refreshing because of what it DOESN’T demand from me. It respects the living shit out of my time and yours too.
Shin’en REALLY have something special with this one.
The Touryst is full of wonder, another thing that is in SHORT supply as an adult in 2019. I’ve spent a healthy amount of time in the game just looking around, and I can assure you- these wonderfully blocky voxels look STUNNING in motion at a pretty damn steady 60 FPS. The graphics have a retro appeal with modern touches and it’s frankly the kind of thing that turns my insides into a wide-eyed cartoon kitten exploding with happiness. There are little touches all around, things to interact with, surprises EVERYWHERE- and it presents it all at a perfect pace and allows you the freedom to figure it out on your own.
I really don’t know what else to say without rehashing the same complimentary exposition you’ve already gotten, so I’ll wrap this up. The Touryst is a revelation, it’s the kind of thing that reminds me of why I love video games and why it’s an art form. It is stunning to look at, an absolute joy to play, and it engages that part of your brain that this world tries all too often to stifle- the wonder part. The Touryst is the video game equivalent of rolling down a hill, getting lost in the woods behind your house, or telling ghost stories under a blanket with a flashlight. It is an experience that is at once a throwback AND a lightning bolt to an exciting future and if Shin’en Multimedia continues to bring out experiences like this the gaming community will have PLENTY to be happy about for a long time to come.
Please do yourself this favor- head over to the eShop now and pick this one up. It’s $19.99 and for something THIS magical, its an absolute steal. The kid inside will thank you. Keep him/her around, they tend to see things we’re too jaded to see.
A brand new blog/website where this happily married, 30-something father of 2 little minions rants, raves, and speaks in tongues. Raw, honest, and riddled with profanity. Get on board and let’s make The Ghost Generation awesome together!http://theghostgeneration.com Twitter.com/Gh0stGeneration