TSIOQUE is a beautifully-made, charming point-and-click puzzle game that excels in creativity. And whilst the narrative is simple and the game is on the shorter side, it’s hard not to have a good time with this fairy-tale adventure, even if there is a lot of trial-and-error involved.
You take on the role of Princess Tsioque as she attempts to escape from her castle after a character, appropriately named the Wizard, seizes control and locks away the princess after the queen leaves to do battle with a creature savaging the land. All of the exposition is given out of a fairy-tale book with a set rhyme scheme, which I found to be a little annoying at times, but it only happens rarely throughout the game and so its hard to judge it too harshly for this. There’s also a big narrative shake-up at a point in the game that didn’t work for me and felt unnecessary. When you finish the game and think about how the game played out, you realise that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It attempts to add to the fairy-tale feel of the game, but I was let down by the abrupt twist in the story. Having said that, the story is just there to give context to Princess Tsioque’s adventure, not to drive the game, so it serves its purpose without setting the world alight.
After the introduction and escaping the dungeon, the rest of the game takes place almost entirely in one hub zone: the courtyard of the castle. You are free to go to any area at any time, but you’ll often find that you don’t have the items necessary to continue forward. When you do find the place you are supposed to be at, the game becomes a trial-and-error fest of how to get the items you need from each area to move forward. In one instance, you’ll have to figure out to get pieces of armor from a guard camp to sneak past a different guard in a tower, only to discover after completing the puzzle that Tsioque cannot carry the pieces, so then you have to find a different means of carrying items. You can also get items near the beginning of the game that you won’t use until near the end of the game, which will leave you scratching your head, trying to figure out what the item is for.
Whilst most of the puzzles are on the simple side, there are a few that are brilliantly creative, and bring a smile to the face, when I finally figured out what exactly I was supposed to be doing.
Even if you fail a puzzle or are spotted by a guard, the game offers a generous checkpoint system, within which you start immediately where you messed up and then you can try a different approach. In this way, the game encourages experimentation. However, there’s only one way to solve the game’s puzzles, so it can feel like trial-and-error until you finally figure out what to do or realize you don’t have the correct key items to move forward.
When you aren’t solving puzzles, you are exploring the medieval castle looking for the items to complete the puzzles, some of which are so hard to see that I combed through all the areas many times before finally stumbling upon the item I needed. The game wants you to take all of its beauty in and search through everything that is in the game. The game is a joy just to look at, which made me want to find the correct items so I could see more of the castle.
With this being a point-and-click puzzle game, there is very little replay value here; once you’ve solved all the puzzles and know where all the items are, there isn’t much reason to play the game again. The game is also on the short side. I was able to complete the game in just five hours. At $15 on Steam at the time of writing, it really depends on how much money you have to spend and what kind of game you want to play. TSIOQUE is a lovely point-and-click game that many people who don’t play video games will enjoy. This is a brilliantly and beautifully crafted game, but if you want to play something with a little more depth to it, this game isn’t the one for you.
All in all, TSIOQUE is a refreshing, relaxing, beautiful puzzle game that I will remember fondly. What the game lacks in its story and simplicity, it makes up for in its art style and creativity. The game should not be missed by fans of puzzle games. Like a true fairy-tale, it really left me feeling happy as the credits rolled.