TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight was developed and brought to life by one person, a Japanese developer known as “nocras.” It’s clearly a labor of love and built on passion, which shows throughout the experience. It also has some issues that prevent the potential from being fully realized.
TASOMACHI is a platformer with retro aesthetics but with today’s technology and graphics. This works to its advantage since 90s and 00s style platformers where light exploration and picking up collectibles aren’t as plentiful. But it also doesn’t rely on the graphics of the era it takes inspiration from; the graphics and presentation are among the highest points of the experience. It’s a beautiful game with an alluring art style. It feels nice existing within this world and looking around, even if it often feels empty or meaningless.
The game’s story follows a young girl named Yukumo, who is traveling the world in her airship. Her ship breaks down and so her new quest is to find parts and to get her airship back in the skies. An empty town littered with talking cats offer hints and help to Yukumo as she searches for the necessary items to resume her travels.
Airships are awesome
Vague passages in texts left around areas provide some information on the game’s story and world but it’s mostly just there without offering a lot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Platformers as a whole don’t typically carry too much story, especially from the era that most inspired TASOMACHI. The story is just there to provide a reason to exist and move around the world. The world seems like it has the potential to be so much more than it is though so it would be interesting to learn more about it in a future title.
Yukumo finds Sources of Earth while exploring different areas, which are needed for progression. The environments are what make the game as interesting as it is so this is where the core of the experience lies. Maneuvering through the areas and overcoming platforming puzzles and obstacles starts off entertaining enough but the fun starts to fade when the difficulty surpasses a threshold beyond the character’s control and capabilities. Yukomo’s jumps and movements are stiff and floaty so once the game demands increased precision, failure is much more frequent. It’s very obvious that it’s the fault of the game though so immersion drops almost instantly and is replaced with frustration. Knowing the kind of movement needed to traverse but being unable to do so because of a game’s controls or feel is frustrating. It makes you feel like you’re not really in control at all.
The world itself is beautiful though and the music matches right up with it. This is a game where I’ll probably get more use out of the soundtrack than the game itself. The music is so atmospheric and relaxing. I really like how it sounds and it works in tandem with the artistic visual style to paint a picture of a world I’d love to know more about.
Hard to explore an inviting world
I didn’t finish the game and I don’t expect many people will. It’s fun for a while but it gets tiring quickly once the game starts asking you to complete platforming segments that the controls and character movement don’t feel suited for. Exploration and collecting quickly become a chore and the environments start to run together due to similar looking assets so I found myself lost and walking in circles. The warm soundtrack and mysterious world can only carry the game so far.
I love aspects of the experience so much though and it’s easy to both see and feel the developer’s love of early platformers. I want to explore other ideas and worlds from nocras and hope they make more games like this or even a sequel that goes deeper into the lore and characters.
I can’t recommend TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight easily to most people. I do think fans of platformers from the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 era will find some enjoyment but it’s hard to say how much since the game will get old after its expectations surpass its design and character controls. Take a look if you’re a fan of retro platformers though; there’s something special here, it’s just mixed with some rough controls and unrealized ideas. I’m looking forward to the next game from nocras though and will be first in line to check it out.