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Indie Game Review: Tukoni

The Indie Series: reviews of the highest rated indie developed games under £10

Cost: Free

Platform: Steam, PC

Reviews: 1,835 reviews with overall rating ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’

Time to complete: 36 minutes

A handdrawn Point&Click puzzle adventure, Tukoni is made on Unity and is a very short game. No doubt this is the reason it is free.

To understand the game is to understand that everything is designed to be cute with a distinctly homely, indie feel. It is also a secondary source of revenue for the developer, who has created a whole world of Tukoni (I come onto the developers background below).

The game is extremely highly rated, 10/10 on steam and 9/10 on Itch. Part of the reason for this is that it is non-offensive, easy to play, with plethora of achievements to collect, and plays into a very in-style indie look.

I did some reading around what a Tukoni is. Tukoni find their in-life origin from Australian Aboriginal mythology. They are forest creatures who were known to dance, which in turn made trees grow. The developer describes them as ‘making a lot of useful things, but they do not forget to have their fun’. You get the feel of this in the game as your main character, which resembles something of a tall fluffy deer walking on two stilt-like legs, positively skipping through the game collecting items with gusto and enthusiasm.

Game Mechanics

The game introduces you to the mechanics by getting you to brew a cup of tea. A small speech bubble occupies you at all times to provide a reminder of what is needed next, which is a nice touch. Being a hand-drawn/painted game, and thus not your usual gaming view, it prevents the need to click everywhere on the screen to discover the ‘action points’.

Instructions on how to progress the game. Beautifully hand drawn.

You can remove the inventory from the top of your screen if you want to take in the art work and relax, perhaps while the Tukoni takes a drink from his travel flask. It’s hard being a forest spirited adventurer, and drinking tea is welcome.

The game is meant to last 15 minutes, and I could see most people completed in such a time (although I suspect they must have cheated and checked some of the secret achievements before starting out). It took me 36 minutes, partially because the game bugged. I was exploring with one particular item (for those who have played, it involves a torn piece of paper), and managed to trick the game into resetting one of the puzzle rooms. Thus on re-entry I was asked to collect a unique item, which no longer spawned. I had to restart the game.

However, despite the above, this was a very well balanced game… it works smoothly and effectively (bar the bug).

To be honest I was close to sacking it in there, perhaps if it wasn’t for the easy achievement points. The game, whilst ‘cute’ and relaxing, I actually found rather slow. The Tukoni seems to loiter in movement, and take quite a while to pick up items. The isn’t aided by the music which is fairly monotonous, repetitive, and not representative of the situation unfolding.

There is a sad moment in the game, which would have been powerfully matched by a crescendo of minor chords or the like. Instead, we are treated to the same xylophone music. Which interesingly I found very reminiscient of Age of Empires. I was sort of expecting the ‘SHEE HAH’ sound of a villager being created.

The goal of the game is not entirely clear. Whilst the diary you carry gives you a small clue of a bigger purpose (perhaps a quest?), it would be more effective if we understood the background for the adventure and the motivation of the main character.

However, despite the above, this was a very well balanced game. There were puzzle secrets in the game (I am a big fan of these), which are satisfying to unlock as achievement points. We cannot also look past the fact it is a free game, and clearly focuses more on art than mechanics. It works remarkably smoothly and effectively (bar the bug).

To quote one of the steam users ‘perhaps this is just a taster of a much bigger game to come?’.

The Developer

The maker of the game is an individual called Oksana Bula, who is known for creating postcards of Tukoni creatures. Hence games being a secondary income source, or perhaps even an advertisement? In 2015 she was interviewed by ‘The Day’ in Ukraine as saying she was planning to expand beyond postcards, with a yearly calendar, and also a graphic novel. I wonder if she anticipated building a game at that stage (the game was released in 2020).

Tukoni Post Cards – can be bought from Etsy.com

With the easy-to-use Unity game engine software, and the heightened awareness of gaming IP and popularity, it is no surprise and in fact completely applauded by this author that she decided to do this. The crossovers from traditional media formats into games is a theme I like very much indeed and brings a lot of creative power and clout to the games industry.

Oksana has 21.8k followers on Instagram under the name tukoni_tribe and creates some incredible artwork. Her Instragram has links to her YouTube, where she also gives tutorials on how to create the artwork on Procreate.

A great crossover between an artist mind and business, with video games. Despite its flaws, the game doesn’t ask for the world – especially given it is free.