If you read my reviews, you probably know that I am a fan of puzzle games in AR. That genre plays well in augmented reality. Games like AMON, Flat Pack AR, Splitter Critters, Euclidean Lands and AR-Tower played so well in AR, so I am always excited to get to play new AR puzzlers. In this review, we’ll take a look at a game called AR Togater.
What is AR Togater?
The description of the game on the app store is more is more narratively expressive than accurately descriptive. When I first read the description, I have no idea how the game plays and what type of game is it exactly.
To be more accurate, AR Togater is a puzzle augmented reality game that combines platforming mechanics. Players need to find characters called “Dicers” within a complex. multi-platform level. Those characters so-called Dicers are hidden from your sight. To reveal them, you need to locate the designated platform that looks like the other platforms but marked with a glowing Hexagon shaped.
You need to guide a single character so it stands on those specific platforms and reveal the hidden Dicers. One the Dicers are revealed, all is left to do is to click on each one of them and move on to the next level.
Let’s take a look at a gameplay video, just to give you a good idea how this game plays in practice.
Level Design & controls
I really liked the design of the levels in AR Togater. First of all, there are a total of 4 different worlds, each world holds a total of three levels. Each world looks unique and carries a different looking theme than the other.
I really liked the unique art-style of both the characters and the levels. The levels look colorful, lively with pleasant and calming aesthetics. The visual experience beautifully blends with the captivating background music and creates a calming atmosphere.
The controls are very simple. The character will move automatically inside the platform. Some platforms have a trapeze-shaped light on their surface That light indicated the direction the character could jump. To make it jump, you need to swipe down on the platform. The longer the swipe, the longer the jump. If your character missed a platform don’t worry, it will spawn at the same place and you can try it again. There are no lives in this game, each match has a 3-minute countdown timer if it reaches zero you lose the game and you need to restart the level all over again with a fresh timer.
Jumping from one platform to the other is one mechanic. The second one is moving platforms. Those platforms can be identified by a two-line mark on one of its facets. If those lines are vertical, this means that you can only move the platform up or down, just tap and hold and move the platform to the desired location. If the lines are aligned horizontally, this means that you can only move them on the horizontal plane. The last mechanic is the portals. Your character can only pass through portals carrying the same symbol and you are the one to control which symbol each portal holds.
To make sure the character travels to the right portal, you need to make sure that only the origin and the target portals are marked with that particular shape. This can be quite tricky and you need to move around the map, looking at the shapes and making sure you know which portal you want the character to move to. It wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t a timer, but once the timer start ticking, every mistake can cause you to lose time and even lose the game.
The platforming part is nice but seems a bit awkward when playing in AR. Tapping and holding to make the character jump feels inconvenient at times. For a game that has only one-directional jumping platforms and doesn’t punish for fail jumps why even bother to make precise mechanics for the jumping part? It’s good for 2D platformer games but it seems just useless here.
I would have preferred a more fluid experience with a focus on solving complex puzzles but without precise jumping. Once you get the hang of it, you see that it’s very easy to nail the jumping right, it’s either a very short jump or a mid-distance jump. Once you get it you rarely make any mistake, and that control mechanic just renders almost useless. It would be more interesting if there were moving platforms to jump on with directional control, but there isn’t.
Game Difficulty & Replayability
I was able to finish the game in slightly more than an hour if I remember correctly. I was stuck at several levels but I was able to solve the puzzle relatively quickly.
The game’s difficulty is mostly revolving around a time limit. The player needs to make sense of the complexity of the stage and find the right path to lead the character through. Sometimes it’s better to observe the stage first, understand it and than act than just start moving your character without thinking first. If you do that, you probably will find yourself starting the level a few times until you figure out the right way to solve it.
I am reviewing version 1.0 of the game. This version only comes with 12 stages. I personally find the experience to be satisfying, but very short. The fact that there is a 3-minute timer involved, doesn’t allow a more complex scene. I personally would have preferred a more complex scene but without a timer on my back. That being said, this design is good for casual gamers who don’t have a lot of time to play and want to play a game in fast sessions.
I would definitely have liked to see many more levels, certainly more than just twelve. I do hope to see more levels and worlds introduced in future updates.
Once you finish all the 12 stages, there isn’t really anything that makes you come back. The game definitely lacks replay value. Procedurally generated levels might be nice, but the game doesn’t employ that technology. Maybe adding a hard mode where the player needs to finish the same levels but with an even shorter time frame. I think this can make the game more challanging and can cramp up some extra replay value. I know that if I enjoy something, I don’t want it to end so fast, and this what happened to me with this game.
As you can see, my impressions were positive overall, but I did have an issue with the AR experience that I want to share with you guys.
If you play AR games, you already know that the game requires an initial scan and sometimes a re-scan of the gameplay area when a new level is started. AR Togater doesn’t ask you to scan the surface like other ARKit games. The game spawn floating in front of you. The game asks you, and I quote: “Move your phone forward and backward to help the ship take off”.
That forward and backward movement was annoying and it took quite some time for the game to start the level. Scanning a surface isn’t annoying because you just hold the device facing down or at an angle, so it isn’t that bad.
I did find out that when you make the forward and backward movement at a lower height, the game will be deployed lower. The game doesn’t tell you which way to hold the device, so when I first held d it in front of my chest, it spawns a bit too high. I prefer playing this game at waist height but the whole initialization process was just terrible.
Other than that, the game was jittery at times. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t stick to a surface, I’m not sure. You can play the game in a small area but there isn’t any option to resize the stage. Still, I didn’t have any problem with the current size of the level, it was optimal for this type of experience.
Aside from that terrible calibration process for each level, the AR experience was satisfying without any other prominent issues that hurt the gameplay experience.
I just want to add that the game does have some bugs. For example, sometimes the character doesn’t stick to the platform and falls down, but it resets immediately after. These bugs don’t appear very often and don’t hurt the experience too much. I did report them to the developer hoping that they will be addressed in a future update.
One last thing. AR Togater, as for version 1.0, isn’t optimized for iPad, you still get that screen with the black borders. The developer plans to add full iPad support in the near future.
I enjoyed playing AR Togater, the short time that I had with it. The art-style, the music, and the character’s voices are fantastic. The game is presented very well in augmented reality with the floating platforms and the use of verticality. It’s really cool watching the character jumping from one platform to the other in mid-air or traveling through portals and appearing on the other side of the map.
The art design is simple but with very nice finishes of interesting objects and beautiful animations.
There was one funny moment where my character started dancing on the platform. I am working on the clock breaking my head how to solve the puzzle. and she was like: “No problem, take your time, I’ll just dance here on this little platform, just tell me when you are finished”.
I also really liked the little visual effects in the game. I pay a lot of attention to those little things that developers either skip or just forget to add and they add more temperament to the game. This helps to fill up the gaps and make the visual experience fill more interesting, professional and complete.
I enjoyed playing AR Togater, although the experience was short to live. My experience was positive. I liked a lot of things in this game, including the game’s presentation, animations, the color palette, the unique looking levels in each world, the sounds effects, the music, the character voices, and most of all, the puzzle experience was captivating and engaging.
This is a very well-designed game but still, the game is just too short and not that difficult to complete. That being said, it wasn’t too easy either, but when I play a puzzle game, I want to be challenged.
There is definitely room for adding either more game modes and stages and increasing the game’s difficulty. The game is relatively expensive considering the short experience, the lack of replayability and the fairly low amount of content it provides. It’s still a high-quality game and I’m positive that even as short as it is, you will have a good time with it.
PS. By the way, one Dicer girl was teabagging me. Pay attention to minute 4:25 in the gameplay video above 🙂