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Toby: The Secret Mine Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although it's not especially original, Toby: The Secret Mine gets enough of the fundamentals right to be a good time. Sadly, a lot of the fun is thwarted by cheap deaths and puzzles revolving around trial and error. It's a solid enough platformer, but it doesn't do anything new or unique to stand out from a long list of other similar games. Rating: 64%
Toby: The Secret Mine
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Toby: The Secret Mine Toby: The Secret Mine Toby: The Secret Mine Toby: The Secret Mine
  • Review Score:

  • B-
Limbo may not have created the 2D platformer genre, but it did give indie developers a memorable art style to copy. And copy they did, with games like A Walk in the Dark, Element4l, Monochroma and many more lifting Limbo's silhouetted visuals and atmospheric tone. The newest example of this trend is Toby: The Secret Mine, a puzzle-platformer that bears more than a passing resemblance to Playdead's hugely popular action game. And while it gets the look and tone right, it's doomed to forever be in other game's shadow.

This is one of those platformers that tells a complete story without saying a single word. You play Toby, an unusual cat-like creature who is forced to go on a grand adventure after an evil red-eyed feline kidnaps his friends. This sends our hero through 21 challenging stages, each filled with puzzles to solve and enemies to avoid. It's a tough road, but it's the only way Toby is going to rescue his 26 buddies.


If you've played Limbo or pretty much any puzzle-platformer released in the last decade, then you'll know exactly what to expect. Besides jumping across spike pits and avoiding lasers, we spend a lot of our time pushing boxes and pulling levers. We're tasked with avoiding saw blades and searching every last inch for your feline friends. It's not an especially original game, but the core mechanics are sound and the game is constantly throwing new obstacles your way.

The problem is that most of the ideas lobbed at you are immediately forgotten. A good example of this is the stealth component introduced towards the end of the game. The idea is to hide behind the silhouettes while a rabid dog races by. This is a mechanic used exactly once, ditched entirely in favor of more crate pushing. The same thing can be said about the mine cart stages and a section where you seemingly push a hanging platform.

Things get even worse when we're asked to guess our way through a number of trial-and-error puzzles. One of the biggest offenders is a mini-game that wants you to light up eight rows of gems. Of course, we're not given any clues as to the correct order, so we're basically just picking gems at random and memorizing what works. While this may only take a few minutes to solve, the constant failing and restarting is annoying. There are a few puzzles like this spread throughout Toby's 21 stages, and each one of them brings the game to a screeching halt.

Unfortunately, the trial and error approach also seeps into the 2D platforming. The Secret Mine hides a lot of its deadliest obstacles in the shadow, giving us no warning when we're about to die. The game delights in cheap deaths, even giving you achievements for dying a certain amount of times. This often feels like cheating. I'm fine with dying because I missed a jump or didn't time something right, but not because most of the enemies are impossible to see.

Toby: The Secret Mine (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The good news is that Toby has a great checkpoint system. Missing a jump isn't all that bad, since you'll usually respawn right next to where you died. There were a few times when it pushed me all the way back to the start of the level, but most deaths are pretty painless. That said, I did run into one spot where my cat hero would freeze every time I died. It only happened in a specific location, but every time I got killed by a saw blade, Toby would be completely useless and I would have to restart the game. Thankfully, that only happened in one spot.

Even though we've seen this art style employed many times already, I have to confess that it's still striking. I loved looking at the rain come down as Toby jumped through a monochromatic world. And then a few minute later, we're puzzling through a snow level so bright it's almost blinding. The stages look good and have enough diversity to keep them entertaining throughout the modestly-sized adventure.

Although it's not especially original, Toby: The Secret Mine gets enough of the fundamentals right to be a good time. Sadly, a lot of the fun is thwarted by cheap deaths and puzzles revolving around trial and error. It's a solid enough platformer, but it doesn't do anything new or unique to stand out from a long list of other similar games.
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