Based on the concept of a pop-up book and taking place in feudal Japan, Tengami is one of the most beautiful games we've ever seen on iOS.
Sometimes a game comes along that urges you to take your time — to soak up the gorgeous atmosphere, to explore the world and solve puzzles at a leisurely pace. It's about the journey — not the finish line. The Room is one such game. Year Walk is another. And now we have one more to add to the list: the newly released Tengami.
And yet, Tengami is not quite like any game we've seen. It's based on the idea of a pop-up book and set in a sort of mythical feudal Japan. You control a young Japanese man — although the actual details of the plot remain to be unfolded as the story progresses, with very minimal exposition and even fewer directions.
It plays out, in fact, a bit like a dream: you unfold the landscape and wander through it, solving puzzles and collecting items to advance to the next stage of the story. And everything works as it would in a pop-up book: tabs that can be pulled allow you to removed obstacles and move items, and standing on glowing portals allows you to turn the page, collapsing the current scene and reopening the next.
Each action, and each puzzle, needs to be figured out by you — first, what the puzzle actually is, and then what you have to do to solve it. A series of four chimes, for instance, needs to be rung in a particular order, but the game gives you no clues as to what that order might be.
Meanwhile, there's not a single flaw in the aesthetic execution. Your character, when turned sideways (or facing towards or away from you, since he is viewed from the side), all but disappears — he is, after all, made of paper. Each environment collapses perfectly — you can easily imagine the scenes crafted out of real paper, and, in fact, they could be.
"Tengami's world is built as an authentically folding three dimensional pop-up book with an all new technology created just for this game," the game's description reads. "Everything seen in the game could be recreated in real-life with just paper, scissors and glue." The development team even scanned real sheets of paper to create realistic textures for the world. The result is something unique, beautiful and absolutely worth playing.
Once again, an indie developer has proven that a game can indeed be a breathtaking work of art.