It's been a long wait, but Tengami [$3.99], the adventure game inspired by pop-up storybooks, has finally been completed. The developer, Nyamyam, is a new name, but you're almost certainly familiar with past projects they've worked on, including Diddy Kong Racing, StarFox Adventures, Way of the Samurai 3, and Kinect Sports. Tengami got a lot of attention almost immediately, thanks to its eye-catching, beautiful graphical style. The final product delivers on that visual promise and then some. It was less certain was how the gameplay would turn out. Happily, I can say that while the gameplay is considerably more pedestrian than the presentation, it's solid enough that fans of adventure and puzzle games will definitely want to give the game a go.

Tengami takes you on a journey through a Japanese pop-up book. You'll travel through four different areas, trying to return life to a dying cherry tree by retrieving a cherry blossom from each location. You'll visit a few abandoned shrines, travel the seas, and experience the changing seasons. The game is essentially a point and click adventure game, with most of the puzzles making use of the game's main gimmick of turning or folding paper to change the environment. It's not a terribly long game, and if you don't get snagged for too long on any of the puzzles, you'll probably have it wrapped in under a couple of hours, but the brevity kind of works for Tengami.

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First of all, I'm going to gush about the presentation, because wow, this game is something else. It looks nice in stills, but once you're playing and can fool around with the folding and turning yourself, you can really appreciate the complexity of the visual design. I've played some games before with a mechanic based around folding paper to manipulate the game space, such as the Paper Mario games, but none of them have actually tried to present the process as authentically as Tengami does. When you're flipping scenes, you can actually see all the little pieces folding and interacting, something that must have been painstaking to recreate. The payoff is worth it though, because the various set pieces all seem to have depth well beyond the actual play area.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the music, as well. Done by David Wise, who is probably best known for composing the music found in Donkey Kong Country and Battletoads, it manages to sound nothing like any of his prior work and yet still beautiful and a bit haunting all the same. It feels very true to the overall theme of Japanese fairy tales and helps contribute to the feeling of serenity and other-worldliness the game drapes itself in. The sound effects are sparse, but do their job as well. This wonderful package of sights and sounds is what elevates Tengami above the average adventure game. It has a unique style and it completely owns it.

The gameplay is a bit less bold, unfortunately. You move around the environments by double-tapping and can occasionally interact with objects by tapping or swiping. Almost all of the puzzles use the paper flipping or folding in some way. Sometimes you'll need to flip panels to make yourself a path. Other types of puzzles have you seeking out clues by carefully turning pages to spot hidden symbols or numbers. At other times, you'll have to flip over a part of the page to move objects in the direction of others. There are some traditional types of puzzles mixed in, as well, such as finding and replacing missing pieces to machines or entering in the correct series of objects to unlock a door.

The puzzles are essentially the game, making this a fairly laidback quest you can really engross yourself in. There's quite a variety of puzzles in the game, though very few actually require much beyond being a good observer of your surroundings. The folding mechanic is used fairly well, and the short length of the game helps keep any of the puzzles from overstaying their welcome. Of course, once you're finished the game, there isn't really any reason to replay it beyond experiencing the atmosphere again. There are Game Center achievements, a whopping four of them, all of them tied to progressing in the game, so you won't find any extra things to do that way. What you're really buying into with Tengami is the experience, and I think that's a divisive hook to hang one's hat on.

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I think the presentation alone is worth the price of admission, and I had a really nice time digging into Tengami for the short time it lasted. Like the blooming of the cherry blossoms in the spring, it's a beautiful joy that passes perhaps a bit too quickly. As long as you're aware of that aspect going in, I think you'll enjoy what Tengami has to offer. There are other adventure games on the App Store that offer more replay value, a longer play time, and more choices, but I'm not sure if any of them are quite as striking as this one. Backed with some solid gameplay, I think Tengami more than proves itself worthy of a place in the adventure fan's library.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Wizard_Mike

    Too bad there will be those who think $5 is too much for only a couple hours of gameplay, not realizing that this is both a game to be played as well as a work of art to experienced.

    I wonder if those people take the same approach to going to the movies. "$12 is too much for only a couple hours of view-time!" lol.

    • Eli Hodapp

      Pricing perspective is really getting pretty crazy. The new thing now is ranting about "too bad this is free to play, I'd easily have paid a dollar for this" as if a dollar is all it costs to produce video games.

    • lll Anubis lll

      $5 is way too much for this app! I much rather it be free to play and give me the ability to buy $100 consumables! Devs these days....
      On a serious not, I'm not usually the point and click but I love the art style. Do you think I would find this enjoyable?

      • bigjack66

        Very much so!

      • lll Anubis lll

        Hmmm... I'm just going to take your word for it. The art style is so neat looking I'm going to just grab it. Thanks!

      • gora

        Did you really grab it? Or did ya just say that because you painted yourself in a corner? Lol

    • jzerocsk

      I always compare to the price/length of a movie. If I would pay $12-15 for a movie ticket and be entertained for 2-3 hours, then I am satisfied to pay $5 for a game that entertains me for the same amount of time.

    • Pete Martell

      Bought and loving it, I do hope they add more content however. But no regrets πŸ™‚

    • zergslayer69

      Although your analogy works you forget one thing, universal pricing. Movie tickets are all around 11 bucks a person unless you go during matinee. If all app store prices were also averaging 11 bucks then yes this game is a steal. Look at the console games. Yes they are higher production values but the games are all 50 to 60 even for angry birds and so that's what they're used to paying. Since the average price on app store is 99 cents or free, anything higher is unfortunately too much. Why did I bother typing so much?

      • lll Anubis lll

        Because you make a good point. πŸ˜‰

      • Wizard_Mike

        All movies are roughly the same product, though. That's why they have an industry standard "universal" price. While the movies are all different, the experience you are paying for is roughly the same.

        You cannot make the same comparison to the app store. The games all come in a wide variety of types, complexities, production values, play times, replay values, etc. No one would try to claim that Aralon is the roughly the same product as Jetpack Joyride, so you cannot (reasonably) use the universal price to accurately determine price values of app store games. That would be like walking into a grocery store and expecting all food products to be centered around a specific price.

        I realize that people DO, in fact, have this "everything's a dollar" mentality when approaching app store games. I'm simply saying it's ridiculous.

      • Pheebers

        I have to disagree with this...there are very few movies I think are worth seeing in the theater. When I think it's worth it, I don't blink at the price -- I actually go to a premium cinema with comfy chairs and meal service -- but I am sensitive to value. I think it's a very apt analogy.

        I also have no problem spending $5 or more on an iOS game, and do so way too frequently, but I wait for reviews first πŸ™‚

      • Wizard_Mike

        Right. Like I said, not all movies are the same, but regardless of the movie you are seeing, what you are paying for is roughly the same experience each time. I guess I shouldn't have said "all movies are roughly the same product" and instead said "all ticket purchases to the movie theater are roughly the same service."

        Anyways, we're getting way off track here. My initial point was a jab at those who would consider $5 too much for a two hour game. It wasn't a perfect analogy, nor was it meant to be. The point was that if $12 is ok to spend on watching a two hour movie, which you can't even watch again without re-paying, then why is $5 too much for the same amount of time in a game, which you can replay as many times as you want? It was simply a value perspective thing, that's all.

  • Duuude

    I got it right when it was available and it sort of "paid" for itself in the first couple of minutes. It's by far the most beautiful and polished thing I have seen on iOS so far.
    I haven't played it through yet, but I am not bothered by "90-120 minutes" of playtime, according to a developer in the forums here.
    Definitely check it out!

    • bigrand1

      Yeah, what an incredibly fresh experience this is! Just a superb and inventive effort this is! Not to be missed! I hope the dev considers creating more stories so we can have even more to sink our teeth into here.

  • bigjack66

    Brilliant game. It may be a little too short but your paying for a unique experience. This is definitely worth the time and money. I was hooked the moment I saw the vid!

    • Derprozess

      The Room is also short but brilliant.
      This is my fav game so far for 2014.

      • bigjack66


  • defunct32

    What is this game about?

    • bigjack66

      It's not really about anything except the experience. Though I suppose you could say it's about saving the tree although hasn't the tree just lost its blossoms cause it's winter? You know like they do every year it's not dying it's just winter! Seriously though this is more than worth it's price for its art and beauty!

      • defunct32

        Something like an appreciation game? Hmmm. I don't think it's my kind if game, price don't matter as I have spent a bit if money on games/apps but I don't see the point of me owning it if I can't get into it, it IS beautiful though!

      • defunct32

        If - of*

  • Duuude

    So Tengami gets four stars, while Toast Time gets Five?
    And that shitty Second Hand Heroes gets 4.5?
    You are getting more ridiculous with every new day!

    Just HOW much do they pay you to do this?

    • gora

      They pay him in donuts and he's a pretty big boy now.

  • mzinn

    I wish this had better reviews. Everyone loves it but says too short & not all that much other than a few puzzles and LOTS of walking. Maybe a lower price tag will help drive more people to this game. It looks amazing & i love the concept but lots of reviews online that it lacks that certain something that would take it to the next level. I hope they are wrong

  • Duuude

    You didn't just delete my comment because I did not agree with your rating, did you?

    You paid off assholes REALLY don't have any shame?
    So much for free speech then ...

    • Eli Hodapp

      Free speech protects you from government tyranny, not from admins of web sites deleting your highly inflammatory comments about how my staff are shills paid off by developers.

  • bigjack66

    Grow up guys! This game is worth the money. I love shoot em ups as much as the next guy but occasionally something comes along that has to be appreciated for what it is. Some may say its style over substance I say just buy it and experience the game. It's like something very tasty, doesn't last long but you really enjoy it and quality always costs a bob or two!

  • F4stOne

    Really, really impressive app. I would love to call it a puzzler, but there is not much challenge here. The art is captivating though, which for me is reason enough to give this a big thumbs up. Now if all the Freemium designers (cough Dungelot 2's Pixeye) would take note: People will gladly pay full price for something like this rather their being nickel and dimed for an inferior design over time. This is inventive, immersive, and really doesn't insult the player/user with endless IAPs. Sorry I'm ranting, DOWNLOAD THIS GAME, it's awesome.

  • JoelSixPack

    Wow, that was a very well written and objective review! Shaun, you might just be my new favorite TA contributor/reviewer.

    These types of "experience" games are something that I really enjoy. But I like how you pointed out its potentially divisive nature, as I know there are many people out there that aren't in to this type of game.

Tengami Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 4