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When a company is formed from minds at Rare, and its founders have a heritage full of brilliant titles, you know that their first game will be something really rather special. After getting some hands on time with Nyamyam’s first title Tengami, I can safely say that what they have been creating is something truly fantastic – something refreshing and new for the gaming marketplace.
Set for release on iPad – with iPhone, PC and Mac support planned later on – Tengami relies on the power of touch to move you through a Japanese folklore inspired papercraft world. Presenting itself as a pop up book for you to open, Tengami starts somewhat confusingly, although a problem set to be resolved as a nervous and excited Phil Tossell – developer and co-founder of Nyamyam – told me when I was getting to grips with the basics of the game.
Once you move past the initial confusion though, you find a rich and rewarding experience that pushes problem solving to a new level – yet thanks to the fantastic feudal Japan era art style curated by Nyamyam’s Japanese artist Ryo Agarie, and the brilliant musical score by David Wise, you never get frustrated or fed up as the games brilliance means all frustrations just melt away.
While the demo shown at Rezzed – which was the first public showing of Tengami – gave little away about what to expect story wise, the puzzles revolve around the art of folding and unfolding. Unfolding a flap or pulling a tab, just like in a pop-up book, can reveal special, highlighted, parts of scenery and then that in turn solves a puzzle or lets you move forward onto a new section to explore. Movement is simple, requiring you to just double tap on a part of the screen you wish to walk towards, and the protagonist will stroll that way.
Nyamyam co-founder, developer, and fellow ex-Rare employee Jennifer Schneidereit told me that whilst the game has been in development for 18 months already, the majority of that time was spent building a bespoke engine so they could truly realise their vision of a folding papercraft world – something that no current engine could easily do. This time was clearly well spent as the visual style is absolutely fantastic, and despite the majority of the game playing out in two-dimensions, the moments when new pages open or you unfold hidden spaces look absolutely incredible as you literally hold a pop-up book in your hands on the iPad screen.
There are a few niggles, but with another six months or so of development left in Nyamyam’s first title they’ll easily be ironed out, and many of them they already seem rather aware of – such as the opaqueness of some of the puzzled thrown at you; one instance being a doorway hidden away in a completely different section to where you initially find the exit – definitely leads to some confusing prodding and sliding of hidden doors.
By the time Tengami hits the App Store on your iPad it’ll be an absolutely irresistible title that I command you to pick up and play! Whilst my hands on at the fantastic, yet somewhat hidden, booth at Rezzed was short, it was brilliantly sweet and I really can’t wait to get a chance to delve back into that wonderful pop-up papercraft world.