Imaginative Spooks: DXC2: The Toy Shop
I do admire what The Toy Shop is trying to do. I respect what Mahelyk is attempting to say with the Toy Shop. The biggest problem with it that the 10 days taken in creating the game was simply not enough. There is an interesting game just under the surface. A fascinating idea that could have created an amazing philosophical study, if it wasn’t so rushed.
So about those toys:
The store description more or less gives the game away, along with its metaphor. It’s not exactly subtle about it, nor is it the most original take on the theme of subjective reality. Granted, you don't have to be original or subtle about the subjects you tackle to be good. The problem is that the execution is limp. Chiefly because it foreshadows far too much, you get a brief glimpse of who your cosmic overlords are pretty soon after you start the game. The revelation that you are in fact: The bad guy is explained through a dull exposition dump, none of it is left to the player's realization.
The Toy Shop reminds me of Spec Ops: The Line. Chiefly how it tries to make the player feel bad for the choices the player is forced to act upon. The problem is that The Toy Shop doesn’t have Spec Ops’s fantastic narrative or characterization to ground the player. The Toy Soldier is a dumb mute pawn of the gods, no personality what so ever. Because of its short length, The Toy Shop rushes through the steps in building its twist. As a result, the foreshadowing is piled on until the point is obvious and the shock is hollow. I know what was being done here and I think it could have worked, but it needed more time. A longer time spent in the world created by Mahelyk would have been awesome. Considering the teaser at the end of the game, I hope he does make a full game.
None of the gameplay aspects bad, they are perfectly suited to what is demanded of the mechanics. The platforming is fine, the gunplay is also fine. Considering the time frame The Toy Shop was built in I think that not finding any flaws with the game mechanics is very impressive. However, the AI is really stupid. I wish I could say something more articulate than that but it is true.
The AI is dumb in the fact that I have seen enemies getting stuck in walls, the robot boss at the end of the game would just stand still and look stupidly at me as I solved the puzzle. Although it could reach me and should have smacked me senseless, it just stood there every time I jumped to a new platform. It was never really a threat to me. The sound design is a little iffy, where enemies can sneak up on you and get a free hit, even though you rarely see them coming. It's not horrifying it's dumb. But then again, all of these problems could be part of the ten-day development time.
The lack of polish is what brings down The Toy Shop. A rushed project that has fascinating ideas and themes, but didn’t have enough time in the oven. I would like to see a full version of this game next time.
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