Game Reviews

To-Fu: The Trials of Chi

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To-Fu: The Trials of Chi

To-Fu: The Trials of Chi is a frustrating game in the best and the worst of ways.

Its often fiendish level design will have you simultaneously cursing and praising the developer’s ingenuity in finding new ways to kill you.

You’ll frequently blame your own clumsy fingers as you send the soy-based hero bouncing into a pit of spikes or a laser barrier.

Yet you’ll also be annoyed at To-Fu’s death animation – it might be just a few seconds long, but the inability to instantly restart grows from a minor inconvenience into a genuine irritant.

Most of all, however, you’ll be frustrated by To-Fu: The Trials of Chi because it’s a very good game that falls agonisingly short of greatness.

I did it all for the cookie

Those of you who regularly read the site will know that the game’s protagonist is indeed a cube of tofu, nattily sporting a red hachimaki. Your task is to stretch him with your finger and ping him around 100 intricately designed stages to the pink fortune cookie that awaits at the end of each one.

Along the way there are ancillary tasks. The first is to try and collect all the orbs of chi on each stage. In the early stages this is simple enough, but increasingly they’re positioned in very dangerous areas, and you’ll have to pull off all sorts of risky manoeuvres to reach them.

Secondly, each stage has a prescribed move limit, asking you to complete the level with the minimum number of leaps. Ricocheting To-Fu perfectly off eight metal walls and shattering that fortune cookie is hugely satisfying, especially given the triumphant crack and shower of confetti as your reward.

As it’s often impossible to do both and finish the stage in one attempt, ostensibly there’s plenty of replay value, though Game Center support would surely have better incentivised 100% completion. Hopefully an update will add some much-needed achievements.

Can't fling for tofu

Initially, To-Fu balances its challenge very well, though the difficulty spikes quite sharply in places – and with levels only accessible after you’ve completed the previous stage, there are a handful of sticking points.

Lasers, moving platforms, slippy surfaces, crumbling blocks, and levels studded with spikes are one thing - having to navigate all those at speed after flicking a time-sensitive switch is quite another.

For the most part, timing is rarely an issue – you’ll often be given enough space to think about your next shot. But on stages which require precision stretches, one issue soon starts to dwarf all others.

Manouevring To-Fu with your fingers naturally means that your digits are often obscuring the action – or sometimes even To-Fu himself. On stages where you need to move quickly and accurately, this starts to become an unfair obstacle to progress.

Digital botch

More often than not, stages are designed in such a way as to minimise this issue – you don’t have to be touching To-Fu when you catapult him - but sometimes you don’t have the time or space to move your finger far enough to have a clear view of the screen.

In the more hazard-filled stages this can lead to a number of seemingly unavoidable deaths. It’s telling that by the time you’ve reached the halfway point you’ve abandoned the idea of perfecting each level, simply hoping to reach the fortune cookie to move on.

It’s worth noting that this is much less of an issue on the iPad version, so if you’re lucky enough to have the choice, that’s the one to get. Otherwise, To-Fu: The Trials of Chi is a polished action-puzzler that’s not quite the genre master it could have been.

To-Fu: The Trials of Chi

Great fun for a while, but frustration will likely set in before the home stretch. Here’s hoping a sequel hits the heights that To-Fu can’t quite reach
Chris Schilling
Chris Schilling
Chris has been gaming since the age of five, though you wouldn't think it to see him play. Thankfully, his knowledge of the medium is as impressive as his unerring ability to fail at Angry Birds.