Game

Go on a paper adventure in this unique pop-up puzzle game

Set within the confines of a Japanese pop-up book, this wistful point and tap adventure boasts a unique and colorful design, in which the story literally unfolds as you play.

Your character is on a quest to solve the puzzle of a dying cherry tree, by retrieving its blossom from three different regions. To move around you double tap the screen, and your character walks to that point. Glowing icons signify where specific actions can take place, such as pulling a tab to open a cave, enter a room and so on.

The folding scenery mechanism is ingenious and wonderfully tactile.

The folding scenery mechanism is ingenious and wonderfully tactile.

The paper-folding mechanic is brilliantly employed as a way of cutting between scenes and presenting puzzles. For example, to move through the scenery you have to use a number of adjacent stairways, folding them up or down in the right sequence to weave your way through.

Paper engineering

Produced by ex-members of legendary UK codeshop Rare, Tengami was allegedly in gestation for three years, with a whole year spent developing the paper-folding system. Without doubt this talented three-person crew has created a technical marvel and an interactive experience quite unlike anything else. It’s just a shame they forgot to add some gameplay to it.

There are several issues that prevent us from recommending Tengami. The first is its brevity: assuming you can figure out the puzzles (and more on that later), you can rip through the entire game in a few hours. And it only lasts that long because the main character moves so ponderously.

By folding the landscape when prompted you generate new pathways.

By folding the landscape when prompted you generate new pathways.

There is an argument that five dollars is less than you’d pay to see a decent movie, providing a similar amount of entertainment. But we don’t subscribe to that theory; while some games can pull off short, engaging tales they are definitely in the minority. And it seems unfair to let some titles off for only lasting just an hour or two, when other developers – no bigger than the team at Nyamyam – deliver games that last weeks, but actually charge less than Tengami’s asking price.

Tap and drag the screen, and a pagoda unfolds from within the pages.

Tap and drag the screen, and a pagoda unfolds from within the pages.

The argument about quantity goes hand-in-hand with quality. After all, who cares how long the game is if it’s not enjoyable? And, unfortunately, after a promising start, Tengami’s puzzles meander between blindingly obvious and insanely obscure – due in small part to playing on the iPhone’s tiny screen.

All in all there are probably no more than a dozen ‘real’ puzzles, in which you have to figure out the solution using logic or clues in the game – or, as it turns out, random tapping.

Warning: spoilers ahead

There are three key moments which we got stuck at, and put down to poor game design. The first involves bells on a pagoda. Inside you reveal a sign showing eight bells arranged in two diamond formations. Not only do the bells not look like this, but it turns out you have to ring them all at the same time to solve the puzzle. Sorry, we just don’t see the link.

We finally got the bonfires lit – but it’s really not terribly obvious.

We finally got the bonfires lit – but it’s really not terribly obvious.

Secondly, there are bonfires and a lighthouse which need to be lit. It transpires you can actually pick up the fire in the distance and drag it to your targets. This makes no sense in the context of the game: at no point have we been able to interact in this way, and you’re given no clue that you can.

Finally, and most annoyingly, there are doors to open which employ codes. The icons for these codes are secreted on the folds of paper that appear as you’re flicking from one location to another. But again, you’re given no hint that they’re there – for the most part you just flick the pop-sections overs – and on the iPhone display they’re barely noticeable. If it wasn’t for an on-line walkthrough, we’d be stuck there still.

You see those dark icons on the underside of the building? No, neither did we…

You see those dark icons on the underside of the building? No, neither did we…

Price: $4.99/£2.99

Version: 1.1

Size: 210 MB

Platform: iPhone and iPad

Developer: Nyamyam Limited

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Tengami Review: Great concept, poor implementation
So, all in all, Tengami is a huge disappointment. It’s a masterpiece of programming, but the gameplay is limited, occasionally frustrating and, at times, poorly conceived. Hopefully, now that Nyamyam has its pop-up technique sorted out, it can apply it to a game that isn’t wafer thin.
For
  • Visual spectacle
Against
  • Nonsensical puzzles
  • Brief gameplay
2.0Overall Score