These days, the horror genre of entertainment is often filled with cliches and overused styles. Zombies, aliens, and demons are all common sights, especially within the gaming industry. Your Toy, however, is a strong contrast to the norm. Instead of the usual riff-raff, Your Toy places you in a situation in which a teddy bear you left behind during your childhood comes back for revenge.
This unique concept is blended excellently with difficult and challenging escape room-style puzzles and a mixture of jump scares and atmospheric horror to create a tense and satisfying experience. Though the game occasionally feels a bit overly complicated, it nevertheless impresses.
Story: A chilling, thought-provoking concept
For me, the best part about this game was the writing. A theme focused on our old childhood stuffed animals is an interesting idea to explore because we typically regard things like teddy bears as nothing but cotton and buttons sewn together in order to resemble something living after we grow up.
This title flips that on its head, and creates a setting in which these toys don't just resemble something living, they are something living. The teddy bear's thirst for revenge against the player's character is very dark and disturbing — after all, stuffed animals are supposed to be comforting.
Another fantastic aspect of this story is that it actually makes you sympathize with the bear. Throughout the experience as you solve puzzles and explore your environment, you find small hints and clues about the main character's past with the bear during his childhood. These drip fed bits of background information serve to explain to the player the manner in which the protagonist disposed of the teddy bear, and it's not exactly pretty.
Overall, Your Toy's narrative is a dark, yet ambitious concept that feels refreshing in a time where many horror games go down the same generic path.
Gameplay: Satisfyingly difficult, engagingly creative
Make no mistake about it, Your Toy fully embraces the escape-room style of puzzle design. Because of this, solutions to problems you need to solve are anything but simple and easy, and that's a good thing. Over half of the entire game takes place in one room, but you'll be amazed at how many secrets and creative puzzle sequences the developers managed to cram into it that you won't even care.
What's more, the game gives you hints towards the background of the story as you work to make your way out of the main room. I like this approach; the angle of solving the puzzle of the narrative as you solve the puzzles of the game itself is entertaining and makes you want to keep going to find out more.
One issue with the puzzles, though, is that a few of them are incredibly obscure. It can be easy to get stuck in a few areas, and I think that there should be some form of a hint system to at least nudge players in the right direction if they don't progress for a time. People with keen eyes likely won't have too much trouble, however.
In terms of the horror part of the game, Your Toy uses a mixture of jump scares and visual/audio cues that create an uneasy atmosphere. The teddy bear isn't scary by himself, though: things become more frightening as you realize that his form is a result of what you did to him as a child. This is what makes the game scary — the fact that an unsettling part of your past has come back for you years later, and that it's all your fault. Every time the bear jumps out at you, your character's actions are being thrown in his face.
Performance: No patching up required
Thankfully, Your Toy's excellent experience is barely marred by performance issues at all. Framerate drops did occur, but very rarely, and when they did it was only by a few frames. The game never froze or crashed once, and audio always played when it was supposed to. Your Toy is optimized wonderfully.
Your Toy is a great indie horror experience that expertly fuses engaging, creative and tough puzzle design with a chilling, ambitious story and unnerving horror gameplay. Despite some sections where the game suffers from the obscurity and complexity of some of the puzzles, Your Toy overall is an excellent title that's definitely worth picking up if you're brave enough to go toe-to-toe with a homicidal teddy bear.
- Unique, thought-provoking premise.
- Challenging, engaging gameplay.
- Good performance.
- Some puzzles are overly complex/obscure
Your Toy is available now on Xbox One. It costs $14.99.
This review was conducted on an Xbox One, using a copy provided by the publisher.
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