Toodee and Topdee is a special game. It fits in that space reserved for puzzle games that seamlessly go from simple to complex with “a-ha!” moments seasoned perfectly throughout. The game starts simple. It shows the two perspectives (2D and Top-Down) and a few basic possibilities before gradually turning into something difficult, beautiful, and unlike anything else I’ve ever played.
Don’t miss our interview with Gonen, one of the two developers that brought Toodee and Topdee to life.
Toodee and Topdee starts with a cosmic turbulence that causes a 2D platformer and Top-Down puzzle game to merge together. You control Toodee and Topdee, working across the two perspectives and character’s unique abilities to reach the portal at the end of the game’s bite-sized levels. The game can also be played with a friend in the co-op mode, but it’s optional and not necessary. It would be a really fun way to play but don’t worry if you’re anxious about playing with a friend or can’t line up the time. The game plays just fine solo. Someone needs to get the solve the level’s puzzles and get the characters to the end of the level. That conversation and character movement can happen in your mind and with your hands, or with some help.
Portal Quality in some sections
Puzzles based around movement, obstacles, timing, and everything between are set in levels that feel like optical illusions trapped in some kind of weird stasis. Levels are typically short in terms of actual length, which allows for tight pacing when combined with the game’s clever puzzles and level design. It’s weird. It’s wonderful. I love it.
Toodee and Topdee effortlessly pulls off some really clever tricks while playing with the two perspectives. It feels cute at first. I found myself smiling and finding it too easy. I didn’t mind though. The music is mysterious and brings atmosphere. The aesthetic and graphics are simultaneously nostalgic and new. I was reminded of several other games while playing but it feels like a completely unique experience. Toodee and Topdee is smart and builds off of and plays with its influences, instead of borrowing or copying.
The difficulty curve does get pretty steep after a while, especially with how clear it is sometimes. There are a handful of puzzles where I just had no idea what to do. I eventually figured it out but it didn’t feel the same as solving a puzzle. Figuring out these moments felt frustrating and ripped up the immersion some since I had to just start trying anything I could think of. You know the feeling. The feeling that causes you to start shooting and hitting everything in sight in a first-person shooter after being lost for twenty minutes. (The Library in Halo: Combat Evolved. That’s the level you’re thinking of.) There’s nothing worse when that happens in a game. It’s not an issue unique to Toodee and Topdee but it certainly does make intermittent appearances that dragged down my enjoyment from time to time.
It’s easy to learn how to play Toodee and Topdee. The game shows you the basics and it starts slow with an interesting premise and world. It does eventually get much more difficult and the difficulty does bounce around throughout the game, especially in the later portions. It’s still a great game and worth playing. But if you’re someone that falls off of puzzle games after they start to get really difficult, it may be better to wait for a sale. Or play it with a friend. There really is something special to the conversation that happens when two people are interested in the same game. You might solve some stuff faster. You might overthink some sections and have a good laugh. And you can guess and check together when you get to the more obtuse sections, which will make those moments easier to bear.