The Touryst, likely stylised in an effort to distance itself far and away from that flop starring Johnny Depp, is by no means a new game. It is, however, a game that’s going to benefit from being a part of the optimised launch line-up for the pair of Xbox Series consoles. Here it stands along with others in the line-up like Gears, Assassin’s Creed, and Watch Dogs: Legion which makes it instantly apparent that, of all the games on offer at launch, The Touryst is the only one that’s likely to return the smile you greet it with. It’s a bright, exuberant puzzle-platformer that’s got its pockets full of charm.
As the true family-friendly outlier, The Touryst’s premise is as wholesome as it is simple. As a regular bloke on holiday, you arrive at the Monument Islands, a series of eight bite-sized isles, rich with all manner of activities that would make the itinerary for anyone travelling. It’s here that you can surf, cut shapes on the dance floor at a festive beachfront rave, go deep-sea diving or even unearth the secrets buried in the heart of each island with the help of a sage old man. A sun-kissed island retreat becomes an underground treasure hunt in the blink of an eye and it’s The Touryst’s sharp sense of humour and writing that carries it home.
What’ll be most apparent from the moment you land at Touryst Island, the first of the game’s isles, is that the game has a rather distinct art direction. The voxel art style is a perfect match for the happy, welcoming holiday feel that the game has, it’s like Minecraft on happy pills. Our little block-built hero bops around the screen dressed like Magnum P.I., plumbing the dank depths of the island’s Monuments, in which he uncovers unexpected curios and challenges to boot.
Aside from being a cute game, The Touryst is a capable puzzle-platform game, though it’s largely experienced through an isometric viewpoint and a limited camera that can, at times, plague the player and with issues pertaining to depth perception. There’s a lengthy challenge that sees our floral shirt clad star rappel down thousands of feet into a mine and I can say that being boxed in like that isn’t conducive to the game’s so-so camera. Thankfully, the game doesn’t often send you down mine shafts like a cubic Ethan Hunt, though its puzzles can get a little hairy and venture into the realm of finicky—including a whole section underwater involving herding clownfish—but all in all, it should prove manageable for anyone with the resolve to see it through.
Each of the game’s eight islands is themed, although they’re each rather small. Of course, the explorable Monument only serves to expand the content of an island, but on the surface, there isn’t a whole lot to explore. Leisure Island probably packs in the most, with a record store and a chin-up station it’s a hive of activity. There’s a wonderful way in which the game chains and sequences its puzzles so that moving from one to the other feels sharp and focused, there’s not a lot of time where you’re left wondering what to do next. It all clicks into place pretty quickly.
Due to its simple and darling aesthetic, you probably wouldn’t think this is the game to put the next-generation hardware through its paces. After all, The Touryst already managed to hit impressive performance targets when it initially launched last year. Even before Xbox Series X, it managed to hit 4K and 60 frames per second so when I say it looks astounding on the new hardware you can take that to the bank. Although I had no means of testing it, the notion that it targets 6K resolution on Series X is quite incredible. From the jaunty stride of our sightseeing hero to the bright, lustrous appeal of the islands, this is an unexpectedly pretty game that took me by surprise. It’s a genuine dyed in the wool adventure game that looks just like a kid’s animated film come to life.
Although there’s no dialogue to speak of, the game’s mostly sunny disposition is matched by a delightful chiptune soundtrack that rides the wave of the game’s several moods. Carefree exploration is met with softer, pleasing tones while the boss encounters—which all serve as great brain ticklers in their own right—are obviously more upbeat with arpeggiated synth riffs and other bells and whistles.
The Touryst is a surprise packet, to say the least, were it not for its inclusion as a launch title for the Xbox Series X, I’d likely have never given it a chance. Being one of a few optimised for the new hardware, coupled with being available right now for Game Pass subscribers, should hold The Touryst in good stead to draw in some new sightseers for a wondrous getaway.
THIS GAME WAS TESTED ON AN XBOX SERIES X FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
A colourful, vibrant adventure that’s sure to stand out as a true family-friendly option for the next-gen. The platforming feels imperfect when needed the most thanks to limited camera control, however, The Touryst’s puzzles are bound to keep you on your toes throughout. Be sure to soak up the sun, explore at your leisure, and uncover monumental secrets in this unexpected gem.
Bright, gorgeous tropical setting
Capable combination of puzzles and platforming
Troublesome camera can be a bother
Although there's eight islands, individually they're a bit scant