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Tamashii Review- Might Become an Occult Classic

This is a review I’ve been sitting on for some time now because I don’t know how to put into words just what I experienced. Let me start by saying that Tamashii is not for everyone—in fact, probably for very few people. Visually uncomfortable, audibly unsettling, and the content itself is hard to describe. I suppose it’s a bit like Super Meat Boy, if it was a puzzle game instead of a platformer, and if the Meat Boy was made of mad cow disease meat. Most people will find Tamashii repellant, but for those who enjoy this unusual style, they will see it as a masterpiece. Can’t decide which end I find myself on.

Bear with me, because this is going to be hard to describe. Tamashii takes place in a deeply abstract world. You play as ???, a seemingly childlike being birthed into existence by some kind of winged divine being with a rotating pyramid head (no relation). The divine being tells you that your purpose is to purify the temple you find yourself in and sends you on your way. But it seems less like the temple has become impure, and more like impurity was in mind during its construction. The dark and disturbing imagery of whatever the fuck kind temple you reside in clearly shows that this divine being is not all too pure themself. 

That’s about the entirety of understanding you will get for Tamashii. This is a story where, I assume intentionally, nothing is supposed to make any coherent sense. You may occasionally find a weird note that says something like “they filled my unclean soul with lies,” but nothing with any relevance. You may find yourself going through a door and winding up in a regular bedroom, again, with no explanation or relevance. And you encounter a witch-like character who keeps asking you bizarre questions that only barely seem to attempt to make sense of this strange setting. It certainly gives Tamashii the feeling of being in a bad dream, where nothing really makes sense but your brain just kind of accepts it as the reality and moves on. 

Tamashii is visually fascinating. Not necessarily good, but fascinating. I would encourage you to watch a trailer or gameplay because these screenshots (while fucking insane) do not do it justice. While graphically it may look like a flash game, it becomes something a lot deeper with the visual effects. The corrupted temple’s labyrinthian halls fluctuate from looking like something out of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest to the environment of an HR Giger painting. On top of that, a lot of the scenery of the temple is made of grotesque human parts, such as mouths and eyes, as well as a lot of phallic imagery. 

The only creatures in this game are you, the witch, the pyramid head, and a handful of bosses. These eldritch horrors you encounter in Tamashii follow the same style. Most were some variation of a hideous giant of glowing undulating flesh and are honestly difficult to look at. The devs really created a great visual style of being completely unsettling and just plain fucking weird. Being as they are the only enemies you encounter (at least in the traditional gaming sense), their unselling presence does Tamashii wonders.

The visuals of Tamashii are amplified even more with the extremely unsettling video effects on basically every scene. Weird blurring, color saturation, flashing lights, and more, generate the feeling of playing it on a Sega Genesis which just had a large cup of milk spilled in the cartridge slot. It should be noted that, if you have epilepsy or are prone to motion sickness or headaches, Tamashii may not be for you.

The gameplay for Tamashii is a lot of platforming and puzzle-solving. Mechanically it’s really simple. You have a standard platforming moveset, a triple jump, and can create up to 3 shadow clones that stand in one spot and disperse after like 30 seconds or if you hold down the “go away” button. Gameplay puzzle rooms revolve around utilizing various buttons, doors, and shifting walls to complete, and most rooms are full of deadly traps. Á la Super Meat Boy, the gameplay is about you dying a few (or many) times before figuring it out. 

You have no way to attack (except in boss fights where you attack by sitting on a button connected to a turret), and thus the majority of the gameplay does not involve interacting with any sort of enemy creatures. It’s kind of refreshing. All too many horror games revolve around fighting off or hiding from enemies. Tamashii gets rid of all of that and just puts you in a creepy box and closes the lid until you solve the puzzles. Sure, you know you’re safe, but man it’s dark and those walls are weird. 

There’s really not much I can say about Tamashii because it’s indescribable. Tamashii bucks the laws that any normal game follows, and in that sense it’s a strange piece of outsider art. The story is incomprehensible, and yet the game is still emotional—these emotions being fear and disgust. I have to admit that Tamashii is not my style of game, but I appreciate it for what it is and recognize that this will probably be a cult classic (haw haw). And it’s like $5 on steam, what else are you going to buy with your ever-growing stack of useless steam cards. 

Summary

Weird and unsettling, but creative throughout. Not everyone’s cup of tea but still cool and fresh. Don’t play if you have epilepsy. 

Overall
3.5
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