Former Rare developers show off their enchanting paper-craft game.
At this year's inaugural Rezzed indie and PC gaming event in Brighton, England, we had the opportunity to go hands-on with Nyamyam's upcoming iPad title, Tengami. The game's being developed by a team of former Rare employees who set out on their own to create a gaming experience that captured the essence of both ancient Japanese culture and, unusually, the mechanics found in pop-up books.
It's an immediately arresting title, with intricate paper-fiber brush strokes painted in grainy hues of deep purple and smudges of light blue. In this paper-craft world, the gameplay literally unfolds before you: with a gentle swipe of the thumb, you can manipulate this game to become a 3D environment, unfolding bridges into the game world or revealing essential items hidden behind flaps in the paper.
A double-tap sends your miniature character walking in that direction, while the camera pans backwards to unveil a beautiful forest. Should you reach an impassable object like a river or a sheer cliff edge, you can place the character nearer or deeper into the two dimensional scene so that a different route can be taken. As he does so, he becomes paper-thin as he turns side-on to the screen.
When you reach an impassable river, unfolding a flap of paper towards you unveils a bridge in the far background that can then be crossed. It's impossible to describe the freedom of experimenting with this unique blend of two and three dimensions, and the joy of watching the world literally unfold before your eyes.
Elsewhere in this first stage, a puzzle presents itself in the form of four menacing wolves. Each has a bell located nearby: pulling on each bell will sound a chime and either makes the wolf howl in harmony or growl. The trick is to ring the bells in the correct order, and once the wolves have wailed in a chilling harmony, they all lie down to sleep, allowing you to proceed further. It's utterly magical puzzle design that will leave you mesmerized.
The music is subtle and enchanting, a fusion of modern electronic music and baroque samurai pluckings and bell-tones. On the iPad 3's Retina Display in particular, each of the thousands upon thousands of paper fibers are gently etched on the screen, and you can almost imagine running your hands over the texture and feeling its coarseness.
We've only had the most teasing experience with the first stage of the game, but it's safe to say we've fallen in love with Tengami, even at this relatively early stage of development. We'll have to wait another six-to-nine months to find out what further magic the team can weave into the game before it releases, but we can confidently say that this is one game we're going to be keeping a very close eye on.
Click here for more Tengami screenshots.