Its pronounced “Chiok”. At least that’s my take on it…
Currently on release on PC, via Steam or GOG, TSIOQUE is a collaboration from OhNoo Studio and Smile. The hand-drawn point-and-click adventure is the second full release for Indie dev OhNoo, after their debut, Tormentum. They’re also responsible for a smattering of other, smaller titles.
TSIOQUE in a box
Let’s get the cat out of the bag straight away here: Tsioque is the protagonist, and she is adorable. Not in a cute, innocent, Disney sort-of-way. More like a disgruntled, clenched-fist, furrowed brow, type of way. You see, Tsioque’s mother, the queen, had to go off to war, and Tsioque was left behind. Not bad enough, but the evil wizard, who, since the queens departure now reigns, has seen fit to lock poor little Tsioque in the dungeon. Presumably without her supper. Therein lies our plot, and motivation. Escape the dungeon, face down the wizard’s minions, break free from the castle, and get back our mammy!
Picture each area in TSIOQUE as a static scene. Tsioque herself will be standing somewhere therein, and you wave your cursor around, looking for interactive objects, or other areas to move into. That’s the game. With a couple of notable exceptions. There is an inventory system, and items picked up can be stored, and later used with contextual environment objects. TSIOQUE also features some semi-quick time events. One involves dodging enemies being hurled down a staircase, the other, avoiding trip hazards with button presses.
Nothing groundbreaking with the gameplay then. But that’s not what a point-and-click game will grab you with anyway. No, it’s the characters, humour, and art-style that this genre will live and die on. For example, mechanically, Telltale Games’ Walking Dead series was just a series of well-timed button taps. But that didn’t stop us falling in love with Clementine. Tsioque, as the titular character, is delightful. As a player I was genuinely rooting for her, she’s just that cool. Along the way we make friends with a cat, a dog, and a zebra. We also foil several guards, and a sneaky croc. Tsioque has no dialogue in game, though this just adds to her charm. Occasionally she will give a grunt to signify her unhappiness. In other words, stop clicking that bloody thing, it doesn’t work.
Along with Tsioque herself, the game has one and half great selling pints. The first is the aforementioned art style. Bear witness to the video or screenshots and you will see completely hand-drawn scenes. The lighting is gorgeous, and the animated characters pop in each scene. The wizard is rage-black, with blue-flame hair crackling. Whereas Tsioque is mostly angry tom-boy, but occasionally dainty and princess-like. She wears a perma-frown, but lifts her dress when going down steps, or playfully chases the castle cat.
The half selling point is the ending. It’s half a point because some of you may not like the direction OhNoo took. I loved it. There’s a shift in the narrative that plays with our perception and breathes yet more life into the characters. I think anyone involved in the gaming industry will love the ending, and everyone else will find it satisfying, except for maybe the more cynical among you.
You can expect to get 3+ hours from TSIOQUE. There’s no real need for a second playthrough. The draw will remain the art-style, and characters, but you’ll see everything you need to in one run. For fans of the genre, TSIOQUE will offer a quick fix. For people new to point-and-click, or puzzle games, TSIOQUE will be a good entry point, as the difficulty never raises above average for the genre. Given the young protagonist and playful humour, The game might also appeal to parents who want their kids to try out puzzle games. TSIOQUE is available now for €11.59 on Steam or €8.59 on GOG. GamEir.