What are games for? Ask 100 different gamers and you’ll get 100 different answers. It’s why we, as a species, have made more than 100 games. I mean, probably. I haven’t actually counted. I thought I’d make a good start by counting up the games in the Fifa franchise but quickly lost the will to live. But back to the original question. If you want a cinematic experience, with action and violence and spectacle then you want Red Dead Redemption, The Last of Us, God of War. If you want a compelling narrative with a story to rival a classic novel then you want Spec Ops: The Line, Life is Strange, God of War. If you want a game with incredible feeling combat with a Mjolnir-like axe then… Okay, I might be biased towards a particular game there. But, what do you play if you just want to chill out, if you want to sit down, relax and unwind while a game dances on your retina like Anton Du Beke dancing on a giant pink marshmallow? Well, in that case, you might just want to play Tasomachi.
In Tasomachi you play as Yukumo, a young airship captain whose airship goes a bit crash-ey in the opening of the game. To repair Yukumo’s ship you’ll need to collect Sources of Earth (little paper lanterns) from around the town. With enough lanterns, you’ll unlock new areas and challenges which, in turn, allow you to earn even more lanterns and, in the process, dispel the fog that has settled around the town and restore it to its former brilliance.
That’s the whole game. Explore one of the most beautiful worlds in video games and collect lanterns at your leisure, with relaxing bird song serenading you through your journey. Zero time pressure. Zero stress. Zero worries at all. And as a completely accidental by-product of your chilled-out chocolate-free Easter Egg hunt, you get to help out the locals of the town – adorable tiny anthropomorphic cat creatures who deeply need your help with their mysterious fog problem.
And when I say ‘one of the most beautiful worlds in video games’ I really mean it. It’s stunning to look at. There are screenshots around here somewhere – look at them. It’s vibrant, it’s saturated, it’s colourful. It’s gorgeous.
The way collecting Sources of Earth works conjures some hazy half-forgotten memories of Jak and Daxter (to age myself, potentially the first game I ever played) where the main thrust of the game is collecting Power Cells that are dotted all over the map, some of which can be found and collected in the world and some of which require the completion of challenges. I also remember Jak and Daxter being punishingly difficult and one of the most stressful things on earth (at least to my idiot 12-year-old self) so that is where the parallel ends.
You need 90 Sources of Earth in Tasomachi to fix your airship and a further 60 to completely banish the fog. I believe there are around 200 for completionists. Many of these can be found in the world by wandering around town or doing some very gentle platforming. To find more you’ll need to work your way through Sanctuaries, which require you to complete 4 platforming challenges to gather 5 lanterns and unlock a new skill. The new skill will allow you to go back to areas you’ve already explored and gather more Sources of Earth, along with assisting you in future Sanctuaries. The first one of these is a ‘Ground Pound’ style move.
These platforming challenges are where the only slight cracks in the peaceful facade of Tasomachi start to appear, as the platforming is a little floaty and imprecise, with some difficult keyboard combinations to hit for Yukumo to do exactly what you need. These struggles are likely lessened if you play on a controller but the Sanctuaries are where I started to feel the rage that fuels my normal waking existence bubble up beyond the point it had been suppressed to by the calming influence of Tasomachi. It’s a mild thing but it is a little disappointing when the third person movement and camera controls feel really nice the rest of the time.
To conclude this review I could wax poetic about how great Tasomachi is but that seems a little vulgar and to-the-point for such a graceful and peaceful game. So instead I’m going to round this off in the style of Bob Ross, but if he were a video games journalist. This is a happy little game. The world is your world and you can find freedom in its streets. We can fix anything that happens here. We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy little accidents. We’ve got all the time in the world.