Casual Monday: Tengami

We know how it is. You worked hard for your 10:1 KDR, but sometimes, you just want to take five, relax, and enjoy a quick game on your phone. Unfortunately, finding good games is anything but quick – most mobile gems end up buried under a mountain of trash. But like we said, we know how it is, so every Monday we shine a spotlight on a great diversion to get you through the work week.

Tengami, developed by indie studio Nyamnyam, is an atmospheric puzzle adventure set in an ancient Japanese pop-up book. You’ll pull, fold, flip and slide elements of the world on a beautiful and ambitious journey to save a dying cherry tree. Your adventure will take you across oceans, mountains, and gorgeous Japanese vistas, and it’s easily among the most gorgeous titles available on the app store.

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This isn’t some throw-away distraction that’ll be out of your mind faster than you can download it. No, Tengami is an experience, one which delivers luscious visuals and serene sounds, all while probing your brain with some inventive touch-based puzzles. It’s a game absolutely anyone can pick up and enjoy thanks to its simple and accessible controls, which contrast nicely with its positively mystifying atmosphere.

Tengami is, at its heart, nothing more than a point and click adventure; you’ll guide the protagonist with your finger and engage puzzles with a variety of touch commands. Even if you haven’t always found yourself enamored with that particular method of storytelling in the past, this game’s presentation alone should serve as ample motivation to see it through to the end. Flowing curves, elegant architecture, and an absolutely breathtaking color palette make Tengami a sight to behold.

That design, paired with tranquil music from master composer David Wise. helps Tengami nail its Japanese inspirations. Temples, trees, and everything in between are beautifully evoked in the game’s exquisite hand-crafted style. If nothing else the game is a sterling example of artistic design, even if it doesn’t fully explore the gameplay possibilities of its paper folding world.

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It’s an admittedly short game, divided into three chapters, and an enormous amount of that time is spent merely watching your character walk from place to place. Despite mundane mechanics, though, the game’s astronomical attention to detail and breathtaking beauty keep the experience from growing stale before the credits roll. It would have been great to see more of the intriguing ideas the puzzles experiment with, but tengami is designed primarily to envelop you in a world unlike anything you’ve ever encountered, and it will likely linger with you for some time.

Tengami stumbles slightly during some of its puzzles, but these moments of frustration are brief. Many of these hiccups have been patched since launch, so even if you initially found yourself turned off by obtuse puzzle design, you should give the world of Tengami another shot. This engrossing and beautiful adventure may well bring a few hours of sweet serenity to your busy life.