Toodee and Topdee is a mind-bending 2D Platformer and a Top-Down Puzzler hybrid from indie developer dietzribi. Combining two incompatible genres into one game that messes with your perspective and features puzzles that will have you scratching your head for hours. The two brothers that makeup dietzribi, Gonen and Ori, have certainly outdone themselves on their first commercial project. Toodee and Topdee is a fantastic mash-up of genres that’s not only a quirky idea but one that actually works, and works flawlessly.
The story beings at the beginning, the beginning of time, an empty universe where the only thing in existence is Aleph. A master of an ancient and enchanted language that can turn Words into Worlds. Over countless days and nights, Aleph filled the void with worlds. However, the worlds moved erratically and without a stabilising force. Aleph feared the life he planned to create would be in danger. And so the Semicolon was forged, placed at the universe’s centre to keep the worlds in balance. The worlds are now in harmony, orbiting the Semicolon at a calm pace. Aleph gives life to the first world birthing one of our likely heroes – Toodee. Then another world, different from the first, but home to our other hero – Topdee.
Aleph also created an assistant called Toodoo to help keep track of all the unintentional glitches that were created so he can deal with them later. As Aleph nears the last world to receive life Toodoo worries, he will no longer be needed. Fearing this outcome, he steals the Semicolon, causing all the worlds to combine. Toodee and Topdee are pulled from their worlds or rather mixed into each others, they encounter a newly born glitch called – GLITCH. With Glitch’s help, they begin a journey to find the Semicolon and return the universe back to how it should be.
The game is spread out across multiple worlds, each made up of numerous levels. The levels feature unique themes specific to their combined world. With each world being made up of two separate worlds, thanks Toodoo, there’s clearly something wrong. Toodee’s and Topdee’s unique talents are more than up to the task, but whether you can find the solution to each level is up for debate. Don’t take the game lightly, as there’s more than a few levels that’ll have you scratching your head for hours.
As you may no doubt have guessed, both Toodee and Topdee have very different talents. Toodee is a 2D Platforming expert, it’s the only way he knows how to move, so expect all the usual move sets that come along with that genre. Topdee is a top-down kinda person, which allows for easy movement across the whole map if not for obstacles and holes that lead into the void. The transition between these two characters and their unique style of play is seamless. The fluidity with which you’ll be swapping between the two becomes almost second nature. It’s not possible to tire of the world tilting that takes place during a swap, especially when it’s presented in gorgeous pixel art. Best of all, though, you can experience this in glorious co-op with a friend.
Credit to the developers in that none of the levels ever feels repetitive. Some may focus on one character more than the other for the solution, but both will always be necessary to complete a level. Some worlds even include other living creatures, like bats and pigs. These will also factor into the solution of a level, all the while trying to chase and kill you. Another addition and perhaps the most annoying of all (personal opinion) is Tookey. Tookey is a shadow-like creature that has a bird-like form, but the shadow aspect is the most important. Tookey will literally act as a shadow to whichever character you’re using, mirroring their moves exactly. You can, of course, manipulate Tookey with the surrounding environment, but the solutions will also require Tookey’s involvement, annoyingly.
Not only are some levels impossibly hard, sometimes a solution is simpler than you think, but there’s even a challenge mode of sorts. On each level, there’s usually a red and a blue ladybird, sometimes a purple one, crawling around the walls. These actually correspond to a set requirement in which you must complete a level to get that ladybird. Red is speed, blue is swaps and purple is not killing animals. You’ll naturally achieve some of these requirements throughout a playthrough, but for a lot of levels, they add a new degree of difficulty. They’re also worth collecting because they may unlock some secrets, shh!
It’s also worth mentioning there are a few options available to you if you’d like to adjust the difficulty. These options can greatly help speed at the process of solving levels, so might be worth looking at if you plan to get all the ladybirds. But note that the developer has stated all ladybirds can be obtained with the default difficulty options.
Who doesn’t love pixel art, that nostalgic aesthetic of older consoles which graphically fidelity was in its infancy. It’s fantastic and Toodee and Topdee is no exception. Not only does the game look fantastic in its 2D platformer guise, but also the in world tilting top-down view. Not being talented in game design, I can not begin to imagine the work going on behind the scene to achieve this visual parity between the two distinct genres. Regardless, it looks great, and it works wonderfully and without fault.
Throughout Toodee and Topdee the music is fairly generic, calm elevator type music. Perhaps by design, given the nature of the game, it’s probably the right choice. It certainly saved me from rage quitting on more than one occasion. The calm tones help make light of the tough puzzles, giving you the headspace to try at least once more before having to take a walk. That’s completely reversed when it comes to the boss levels. The music there is fast and frantic, making it that much easier for mistakes to happen. But when you know what you’re doing, it makes for a pretty satisfying beat to kick a boss down a peg or two.
Toodee and Topdee is a fantastic mash-up of genres that’s not only a quirky idea but one that actually works, and works flawlessly. Describing how the game mechanics work really doesn’t do justice to the actual magic at play here. The fluidity with which you swap between the two characters is everything. It allows for creativity from both the developer and player that otherwise could not exist. The brother developer team dietzribi has created one of the best and creative games of the year!