Ask me for a game where the main character happens to be exactly what a stereotypical dad on vacation would look like and I’ll show you The Touryst. In it, you take control of a man dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses, and a mustache, with a carefree attitude that I believe every dad strives to emulate.
Arriving by boat to a tropical island, this man looks like he is about to spend a week goofing off and participating in every random event he comes across. And, to be fair, he still does, but not long after beginning his vacation he stumbles into an old monument and is tasked by another tourist to discover its secrets. This leads to a journey that spans multiple small islands, each with their own personality and sidequests to do, and it’s up to you to decide what to focus on first.
The Touryst is an adventure game that borrows from multiple genres, such as platforming, puzzle-solving, and a host of minigames that bring even more into the mix – even racing. There isn’t much story to The Touryst and everything can be completed in a long afternoon or a normal weekend. It took me just over four hours to beat the story, and beyond that there are only one or two more hours of content to get through.
But even though The Touryst is short it’s still fun. The controls are simple enough; at first all I could do is walk around, jump, and swim, but to make any progress there are some skills that need to be unlocked. So it won’t be long before ledge-climbing, running, and double jumps are added to your arsenal of abilities, all of which make getting around a lot easier.
There are different minigames and sections that are incredibly addicting, some of which could be turned into full games on their own if they were expanded on. My personal favorite happens to be the mine section on one of the islands. In it, the goal is to climb down from level to level while collecting diamonds. The camera will stay in a fixed position until you have even footing, so skip too many platforms and you’ll have to restart from the top. To help, the miner outfit you don to enter this section allows you to throw out ropes to climb down on. It’s a simple area that leans heavily into The Touryst’s platforming elements.
Beyond that, there is an arcade to check out, waves to surf, drummers to help, and even more. Many of these minigames won’t take long to complete, but they are fun to play and all the little distractions really emulate the experience of what it’s like when there are a million things to do while on vacation. There’s even a handy little camera to help chronicle the different places and people along the way.
But to experience everything the islands have to offer you’ll need to visit the clothes store. As they say, you need to dress for success and the Hawaiian shirt is a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. Fret not though, as one of the islands has a clothes rental store, an odd business idea for sure, but for the convenient one-time price of 25 coins you can use any of the clothes they have on offer. Some of these outfits are needed to participate in certain activities – for example, to enter the club you’ll need to dress up a bit. On the other hand, other outfits, like the gaming shirt, seem to only exist to help spice up your wardrobe. Put it on and make a trip to the arcade though, and the man behind the counter will be so happy to meet a fellow gaming fan that he gives you some special prices.
It’s those little details that add to the experience and really show the care that was put into making The Touryst. There really aren’t many negatives to speak of, but one of the biggest that I need to mention is that a couple of the puzzles require controller vibration, including a main quest puzzle, and there is no in-game notification to let the player know this. This is a problem for obvious reasons.
The second issue I had was more of a personal preference but I thought the game was oddly quiet at times. Some islands have no soundtrack and while the crashing of the waves is relaxing at first, after a couple of hours it would’ve been nice to have some more consistent tunes playing. This is odd because the music that is in the game is catchy and the song that plays over the ending credits is fantastic – sadly there just wasn’t as much as I would’ve liked.
Beyond that, the game length is the only other real negative. As I said, it took me about four hours to get through it and 4-5 hours seems to be the average. My time would’ve been even shorter if I hadn’t spent it trying to unlock a couple of achievements. Speaking of which, there are 10 achievements to do in order to net that sweet 1000 gamerscore, and while the achievements’ requirements are fairly simple, they will take a few tries to get.
All-in-all though, The Touryst is a great little vacation simulator with clean cube graphics, a fun little plotline, and plenty of minigames to check out. It’s a “byte” sized game that is good “bit” of fun – sorry, I couldn’t help myself. The point is, if you’re looking for a simple puzzle and platformer game then make sure to check out The Touryst, out now on Xbox One and Windows 10.