Toodee and Topdee review: Flip Your Perspective, Save the World
Sometimes it’s hard to convey the exact reason I’m so captivated by indies. And then a game like Toodee and Topdee comes along. A game full of ambition, heart and highlighted by a groundbreaking mechanic. The story is about the creation and then corruption of a universe. It’s a tale developed by two brothers, and it’s far better than it should be. Not only does it humorously tell a creation myth, but it pokes fun and constantly breaks the fourth wall. While it’s only available on Steam right now, I honestly feel this is a game everybody should play. Keep reading our Toodee and Topdee review to understand why.
In the Beginning…
The game all starts at the very beginning, with the god Aleph creating the universe. Things are going great, but then Aleph realizes they need to populate said worlds. When glitches start popping up, they naturally create a manservant to police this new threat. His name is Toodoo, and he’s very good at his job. Too good, in fact. When Toodoo realizes that completing his job will result in his lack of purpose, he goes rogue and decides to throw Aleph’s universe into chaos. He steals the powerful semicolon, and worlds start to merge in unpredictable ways. Including the worlds of our heroes, Toodee and Topdee.
More Than Brothers
When I first saw the game, I assumed Toodee and Topdee were brothers, not unlike Mario and Luigi. But they have no connection other than being forced to work together to fix the universe. Toodee is neurotic and hates danger, while Topdee is always calm and perhaps a little too chaotic neutral for his own good. At one point, Topdee even muses about working for one of the level bosses. They’re pretty different characters, and the best way that’s expressed is how they solve puzzles.
Though their names tell you everything about how they play, I’m gonna recap the mechanics real quickly. Toodee only exists in a 2D plane. As such, he can run and jump, and not much else. Topdee, however, is a bit of a god-like character. He exists in a top-down grid and can move in three dimensions. While he can’t jump, he can lift and place things and kick objects around. Puzzling in the game is a deft mixture of utilizing Toodee and Topdee’s talents to escape each level without harm. If either of them touches a hazard, they instantly die, forcing you to restart the level. And there’s plenty of hazards, with more introduced gradually as you play. There are dangerous spikes, fountains of flames, laser beams, thunderclouds, and all manner of hungry beasts. Oh, and if you have a friend close by, each of you can play as one of the heroes.
The key aspect to the gameplay is both characters exist in the same level, even though they interact with it differently. So you might need to fetch a key with Topdee that then opens a locked area for Toodee to reach. When both characters touch the exit, you can safely warp to the next level. And when you’re playing as one character, the other is rendered safe from all harm, at least until you switch back. It’s a bit hard to explain without seeing the game firsthand. But take my word for it, the gameplay works seamlessly, and there’s very little you can’t figure out if you spend enough time mulling over a puzzle.
A World-Spanning Adventure
Toodee and Topdee is comprised of a handful of chapters, split into several levels and punctuated by boss fights. Each chapter throws new tricks at you, but in such a way, it never felt overwhelming. The first chapter is just about learning the basics of platforming and puzzle-solving. Another throws critters into the mix. In 2D, they’re gated onto platforms. But once you switch to top down, they can move in three dimensions, and actively hunt Topdee! There are plenty more examples, but the point is Toodee, and Topdee does a masterful job of keeping things fresh and interesting. There’s always sufficient challenge, and I admit that later in the game, I chose to look up a couple of solutions. Thankfully, you also have the option to play around with game modifiers to make things easier. This includes letting your heroes float, withstand more than one hit, and much more besides.
I need to spend a moment here to highlight one of the most surprisingly awesome parts of the game – the bosses. Now, I grew up in an era that focused on incredible bosses in games. But it’s been a while since most of the industry embraced this phenomenon. Luckily, developer dietzribi must have grown up loving bosses, too. As such, all the bosses in Toodee and Topdee are incredible. They work like aggressive puzzles and force you to react quickly to survive. The first one has Topdee trapped in a cell. Toodee must dodge fireballs to grab the key, then Topdee needs to grab a weighted block and drop it on the boss’ head. Rinse and repeat two more times, and you’ll find victory. But fret not. The fights only get more challenging from there. My favorite was probably the demented pink monkey you need to trick into landing bum first on a bed of spikes.
Visually, Toodee and Topdee is a breath of fresh air. It’s colorful, cute, and bursting with personality. The constant humor found in the dialogue can also be glimpsed in the crazy designs of the foes you’ll face, though nothing looks overly menacing. And I love the sheer variety of colors found here. Musically, the game is great, though there are not many earworms, music-wise. But honestly, both the art and the music do the job of immersing you in the game and then getting out of your way. Which is perfect for a puzzle game you want to get lost in.
Lost In Puzzling Bliss
Though you can technically beat Toodee and Topdee in a few short hours, there’s some extra content available. I admit to not having unlocked that yet, nor confirming the method with the developers. Despite that, I’m relatively sure it revolves around collecting all the red and blue ladybugs in each stage. You’ll see them preening on screen, and after a set amount of time, they fly off. Or that’s how it appeared to me. If there’s another way to acquire them, I don’t know it. All I know is it’s generally a good thing to have some unlockable content. I just wish the method for doing so here was a bit more transparent.
A Brilliant Twist on the Genre
Honestly, there’s not much of anything I can say negatively about Toodee and Topdee. While I’m a bit irked I didn’t manage to 100% all the hidden content, the main game is still robust and satisfying. I don’t always enjoy puzzle games, but this one really impressed me. It’s honestly the best puzzle game I’ve played since Grindstone, though admittedly, both games are quite different. If you’re looking for something new to play, or if you just want to support an up-and-coming indie team, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: dietzribi; Developer: dietzribi; Players: 1; Released: August 4, 2021; MSRP: $19.99
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.